Joseph Parker’s close relationship to boxers from the Traveller community, including Tyson Fury and Andy Lee, has been enhanced by his own Samoan ancestry and understanding of the tribalism of Oceania, the former heavyweight world champion said this week as he prepared to meet Dereck Chisora in Manchester next Sunday.
Parker is friends with Fury, the self-styled “Gypsy King”, Billy Joe Saunders and former middleweight world champion Lee, who is now his trainer.
He said the “connection” with Fury began in Manchester in 2017, when the New Zealand-based Samoan successfully defended his World Boxing Organisation heavyweight crown against Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. They all did a haka together post-fight.
“The fight with [Hughie] Fury was the first time I ever met Tyson. And then, after it was the result they didn’t want, they were able to put that aside and come to the room and just chill and celebrate and do the most awful haka I’ve ever seen. I stopped doing it because I knew it was that bad,” laughed Parker.
“That’s the point where we started this great friendship and sort of brotherhood.”
Talking of his closeness to the Traveller fighters, he said: “It is like a tribe. In New Zealand we have Maori, we have a very diverse community. Everyone sticks with their tribe. Tyson, there’s Billy Joe, there’s Andy Lee, I feel like I fit right in – not necessarily their tribe – but we understand each other. We get along very well and I feel very fortunate and blessed to train alongside them. It’s something new and something different. It’s always great to learn from cultures and tribes.”
Yet victory over Chisora could propel Parker towards reclaiming a world title and, in spite of the friendship with Fury, it is a prospect Parker relishes.
“I’ve always said I would love to fight the best, and him and Anthony Joshua are the best in the world. He’s made it clear to me that he will never fight me and he doesn’t see a reason to fight me.
“I respect that. If I want to fight him, I can keep calling him out. If he doesn’t want to fight, that’s his own decision.”
As the official announcement of Fury vs Joshua approaches, Parker added: “I’m a little biased, I’m close to Tyson. I back Fury and I feel he could get a stoppage. But if I had my choice, I would like to rematch Joshua.”
Parker lost a unification fight with the Briton in 2018.
But back to Chisora, and the date with destiny next Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Parker said. “Andy is a very good teacher. My style hasn’t changed a lot, but it’s improved and looks a lot better. I feel like I’m at the beginning of my career again.”
Book the Parker v Chisora Earlybird Pay-Per-View for $39.99 on Spark Sport.
The Sunday Telegraph -Telegraph Media Group
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