Tyson Fury's trainer Sugarhill Steward on emulating his legendary uncle: 'The bloodline means something'

Emanuel Steward predicted Tyson Fury would rule the heavyweight division but never foresaw his nephew leading the way. Interview with Sugarhill on his family genes, a sense of humour amid the chaos, and cutting down trees

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'Tyson Fury is the king of the heavyweight division!'

The man who turned Tyson Fury into a wrecking ball is upset, he admits, because it is raining and he can't get outside to work on his other great passion aside from boxing - his garden.

This is the normalcy that you don't see. For Fury it is being a father of six, doing the school run, taking the bins out. For Sugarhill Steward, the trainer who oversaw his two crushing victories over Deontay Wilder, it is in his work as a landscaper.

He is the man with the knowledge of chopping down trees that taught Fury, the Great Oak of the heavyweight division, how to stand taller than Wilder.

Tyson Fury and Sugarhill Steward
Image: Tyson Fury and Sugarhill Steward celebrate beating Deontay Wilder

After a legacy-enhancing win followed by a night of partying in Las Vegas, Fury is back in Morecambe as the No 1 heavyweight in the world and Sugarhill returned to Detroit, a city where his family names is synonymous, for a brief period of reflection before he returns to work next weekend in another corner of another ring with another fighter whose dreams are in his hands.

"I guess, maybe one day, I'll take some time to say no. But I don't know when," Sugarhill tells Sky Sports.

The union of Fury and Sugarhill has proved utterly inspired - Fury won his first world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko alongside his uncle Peter Fury. He was then helped back to the ring from his near-three year break by Ben Davison. But Sugarhill has elevated him from underdog to unrivalled.

It is a link that began a decade ago when a young, promising Fury sought out Emanuel Steward, Sugarhill's uncle, and trainer to 41 world champions including Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, in the famous Kronk gym in Detroit.

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Before his death in 2012 Emanuel predicted Fury would be the future of the division. He was right. But he never foresaw his own nephew leading Fury to the summit.

There is remarkable footage comparing the mannerisms of Emanuel and Sugarhill as they barked orders at Lewis and Fury respectively.

"At the time I didn't feel like Emanuel," Sugarhill says. "I was just being myself, trying to motivate Tyson and get more out of him.

"When I saw it? I thought 'wow'. It reminds me of what I learned from him.

"There are so many similarities between us. Identical, really.

"I would wear his clothes because we were the same size. When he was out of town, I would sneak in his closet and wear his shirts and shoes. When I was young coming up, he would give me his stuff.

"The genes and the bloodline? It really does mean something sometimes.

"He was like my father. Emanuel was the positive male role model in my life.

"He not only taught fighters to be world champions but he also taught me to be what I am."

What would Emanuel say if he could see his nephew's great triumph as a world heavyweight champion's trainer?

"He would say: 'Great fight, great job, you're on your way'.

"He was so intelligent. He saw things that other people didn't see. He saw things in people that they didn't see in themselves.

"I am carrying on his legacy which means a lot to me."

Tyson Fury
Image: Sugarhill Steward guided Tyson Fury to an epic world title win

Emanuel was in Fury's corner once for a little-known fight forgotten in the haziness of time. It was an eight-round points win over Zach Page in Canada, 11 years ago. Emanuel flew in from Austria, where he was training Klitschko, to be by the side of the prospect he predicted to eventually rule.

Fury has told the story: "He came into the changing room, he had a Hawaiian shirt on, a pair of linen trousers.

"He didn't bring no gear with him at all. He was like: 'Where's my fighter? Where's my fighter?'

"I'm like: 'I'm here, Emanuel.'

"He said: 'Who's got the mitts? Who's got the bandages? Who's got the wraps? Who's got the scissors?'

"It was absolutely hilarious."

Fury says that he told Emanuel after their one fight together: "'Hopefully in the future we'll get to work together again and I will become heavyweight champion one day.'

"And he said: 'I'd love that.'

"That was the last time I saw Emanuel Steward."

Sugarhill has the same wicked sense of humour as Fury. He loves Morecambe seaside. They played air guitar in a mock rock band. After beating Wilder they sat shirtless at the press conference then lived the good life in a Vegas nightclub.

Sugarhill teases how he trains Fury: "Then I kick him in the chin. Then he lays on the ground and I just jump on him. That's how we toughen up Tyson's chin!

"They say he dips his hands in gasoline to toughen them up."

Is that true, Sky Sports joke?

"That's true. We also train blind-folded…

"I am the only man to beat Tyson! I kick his ass all the time! The day I lose to Fury is the day I lose control!"

This feels like a match made in heaven, two great boxing minds at the peak of their powers.

"I've always had a sense of humour but Tyson is the right person for me," says Sugarhill. "I take my job seriously, and so does he.

"But throughout my career, the switch has been off due to the other fighters I have been around. Tyson allows me to be myself - in private and in public.

"It's good for me too. I enjoy having fun as well."

Fury vs Wilder
Image: Fury was floored four times in three fights by Wilder - but never stayed down

Things got very serious when Fury was decked by Wilder's massive right hand in the fourth round of their third WBC heavyweight championship fight. These are the moments where men like Sugarhill earn their crust - somehow taming a whirlwind of activity in just 60 seconds between rounds.

"I thought: 'Get yourself together, get up. Don't make that mistake again'," Sugarhill says.

"I saw that he was OK.

"It's just instinct. The round is still going on. Maybe what I want to say is gone because something else happens which is more important to tell him.

"You can't do anything right then.

"I just have to react.

"My main thing after that round? Breathe. Get his breathing together, get nice and relaxed before the next round.

"I was 100 percent comfortable that he was OK and he proved it by controlling from the fifth round."

Fury has been floored four times in total by Wilder, once regarded as boxing's hardest-ever puncher, but survived every time. He has an innate ability, Sky Sports suggest.

"Yes he does. I don't want to see that. But yes, he does."

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Fury's greatest night was Sugarhill's greatest, also. A boxing life spent learning from his uncle Emanuel in a Detroit gym that became world famous now has its standout achievement.

"Me and Tyson are a great team, the dynamic duo," he says. "People try to give me credit but I pass it straight onto Tyson.

"Lots of trainers give the right instructions but if the fighter doesn't do it? Then it's not worth talking about.

"When I tell him what to do, he does it.

"It must be a special relationship - a bond - for a person to respond to you.

"I can't sit here taking credit although I do know what people are talking about.

"I couldn't do it without him. Just like he couldn't do it without me."

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What does the future hold for Fury?

"He wants to fight. Everybody talks about undisputed. We think about it sometimes, we have conversations about it, but it's not the deepest conversation we have," Sugarhill says.

"We know it's a difficult thing to accomplish - the politics, the stars being aligned.

"We don't talk about a specific person. We want whoever the best is.

"Everybody has it in their head to be an all-time great."

Perhaps this outstanding partnership will not always be intertwined. Sugarhill has ambitions independent of his work with Fury.

"Emanuel had Tommy Hearns, a champion from Detroit. Emanuel's name still reigns supreme around here.

"Whatever he did, I want to do. That's what I strive for."

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Sky Sports Boxing schedule

October 24 - Top Rank in Atlanta
Jamel Herring vs Shakur Stevenson - WBO super-featherweight title

October 31 - Top Rank in New York
Jose Zepeda vs Josue Vargas

November 6 - Top Rank in Las Vegas
Mikaela Mayer vs Maiva Hamadouche - IBF and WBO super-featherweight titles

November 6 - BOXXER in Liverpool
Super-lightweight tournament

November 20 - BOXXER in London
Richard Riakporhe vs Olanrewaju Durodola
Caroline Dubois professional debut

November 20 - Top Rank in Las Vegas
Terence Crawford vs Shawn Porter - WBO welterweight title

December 11 - BOXXER in Birmingham
Savannah Marshall
Claressa Shields

December 11 - Top Rank in Las Vegas
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Richard Commey

December 17 - Top Rank in Montreal
Artur Beterbiev vs Marcus Browne - IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles

February 26 - Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall - undisputed super-lightweight title

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