Tyson Fury, one of Britain’s top heavyweight boxers, is preparing to take on former world champ David Haye in the country’s biggest fight of the year. In the first of a two-part interview, Aasma Day talks to his wife, Paris, at the couple’s home in Morecambe, and finds out about the woman behind the king of the ring.
“LOOK at Farmer Giles over there!” Nudging her friend as she spotted a towering fellow with facial hair and huge sideburns, a 15-year-old Paris burst into sporadic giggles.
Little did she realise that, in just a few years, she would be attending her wedding to that same “Farmer Giles” – Tyson Fury – who would go on to become one of the country’s top boxers.
Paris and Tyson, who both come from a travelling background, met when she was 15 at a wedding of mutual friends, although Paris thought Tyson was a lot older than her.
Smiling fondly at the memory, she explains: “Even though Tyson was a similar age as me, he looked about 25, as he was so big!
“He had all this facial hair and a beard and these big sideburns.
“I remember seeing Tyson as soon as my friend and I got out of the car to go into the wedding, and I have to admit I did refer to him as Farmer Giles and have a laugh at his expense!
“Then his aunt, who I had known all my life as she was my mum’s friend, told me she wanted to introduce me to her nephew.
“We only saw each other for a split second and I didn’t really give him another thought.”
Now aged 23, Paris has been married to Tyson, who turned 25 last month, for almost five years and they have two children – Venezuela, three, and one-year-old Prince.
At 5ft 8ins tall in her bare feet, Paris is quite tall for a woman, but she is dwarfed next to Tyson who is a strapping 6ft 9ins – and was already this height when she first met him.
After that first meeting, their paths crossed on a couple of occasions, but it wasn’t until a chance encounter in Doncaster, where Paris was living at the time, that the pair finally hit it off.
“We didn’t actually get together until a night out in Doncaster to mark my 16th birthday, where Tyson happened to be by fluke,” says Paris.
“He was my first boyfriend, as I was not allowed a boyfriend until the age of 16 and he is the only boyfriend I have had.”
Tyson and Paris began dating and he would drive to Doncaster every weekend from Manchester to see her.
Paris recalls: “It was a very innocent relationship, and Tyson would never stay over.
“Even after we got engaged, Tyson would sleep in a caravan in the yard of my parents’ home, while I slept inside the house.
“We didn’t sleep together until after we got married. That is the traveller’s way.”
Although they both have Romany roots, it is many years since Tyson lived in a caravan, and Paris grew up living in a house.
Trying to explain the gypsy lifestyle, Paris says: “You are what you are. It is a way of life and is like being Asian or Black or Jewish.
“Big Fat Gypsy Wedding gave a very bad image of what travellers are like and most travellers are not like that, just a very small minority.
“People from a travelling background have big families, and it is quite old fashioned and everyone looks out for each other. It is like a community.”
Tyson and Paris dated for three years before getting married when she was 18, almost 19.
Laughing as she remembers, Paris says: “Tyson never actually proposed to me! We were having a picnic and chatting about his future as a boxer and he turned to me and said: ‘First I am going to turn professional, then win the English title then the British title, then I’m going to marry you’.
“I was a bit shocked, but also very happy.
“Even though Tyson can be very romantic, his proposal definitely wasn’t!”
The couple married in December 2008, and Paris says: “I never had any doubts about marrying Tyson, even though he was my first boyfriend.
“From the start, I knew Tyson was the right one for me.
“We argued a lot throughout our relationship, as we are both very opinionated and like a good row. But that is just our personalities.
“Even when we argued, there was never a doubt in my mind that we would end up together.
“I do think it was meant to be.”
From the moment she met Tyson, Paris knew how into his boxing he was and how good he was at it, but he surprised her with his dedication to the sport.
And on their honeymoon, his commitment became even more evident, as he cut the holiday short after winning the chance for a firs tprofessional fight.
But Paris says: “I didn’t mind, as I knew how important it was for Tyson and what he really wanted to do.”
When she first met Tyson, Paris had no interest in boxing, but has now become fascinated by the sport, and even surprises herself with the boxing knowledge she has picked up.
“I have a very extensive knowledge of boxing now, as I have picked up a lot from hearing Tyson talking with friends about boxing.
“I like watching heavier weight boxing, but I can’t bring myself to watch lighter weight boxing.
“Seeing men who weigh the same as me boxing just doesn’t seem right. It is like watching children fighting.”
Shortly after their marriage, Paris became pregnant with Venezuela, who will turn four just two days after Tyson takes on David Haye in what is being billed as the fight of the year.
The couple also have son Prince, who will turn two next month.
Giggling, Paris admits there’s no shortage of exotic names in their household: “With Tyson being named after Mike Tyson and me being named after the capital of France, we couldn’t really have ordinary names for our children could we?”
When Tyson is boxing, Paris goes to watch him and was even at his side while heavily pregnant.
She also travels all over the world with Tyson for fights and training. I have learned to live out of a suitcase.” she says. “As Tyson has got bigger, we have moved around a lot.
“We travel for fights and training, and sometimes we have to get on a plane at the last minute and I often have to travel by myself with the children.
“I have to be quite independent, but I just get on with it.”
Although Paris loves being invited to parties and premieres with Tyson, she says she does not deliberately seek out the limelight and is not a wannabe WAG.
“My friends joke and say I could be a BAG instead of a WAG!
“When Tyson is being interviewed and photographed and getting all the adulation, I just stand back and don’t push myself into the limelight. It is Tyson’s place. He has earned the right to have that profile.
“I have had such a hectic life for the last five years, and I have got used to being busy and like it that way.
“My enjoyment in life is my children, Tyson and my friends.”
Coyly, Paris admits plans for more children are on the agenda.
“I would love a big family.
“My granny had eight kids and I would absolutely love to have that many and Tyson is a great dad.
“I am only 23, so there is plenty of time!”
Read part 2 here