The "Gypsy King" Tyson Fury stands a whopping 6'9" and weighs 254 pounds. His reach is 85 inches, and he's used it to win 29 professional prizefights. In 2015 he beat the fearsome Wladimir Klitschko for just about every bauble in the boxing world.
He's never been defeated in single combat.
His is a commanding presence, and he knows better than most how to make an entrance. When he walks into a room, voice and custom-made suit booming, all eyes turn toward him.
But the wrestling ring doesn't care about any of that.
The ring owes fealty to no man.
It doesn't care about fistic pedigree or long lists of lineal champions. It takes its respect from kings and paupers alike, something Fury—training in Orlando, Florida, at the WWE Performance Center for his first professional wrestling match—learned the hard way.
"I suppose the most surprising thing for me will be how hard the floor is," Fury told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "It's just like a boxing ring, the same. How tough them ropes are. Running into them ropes is like running into barb wire for me. I came off; I was cut to pieces the next day. I was sore; I was battered, and you thought, you know what, I can't wait to go back to the gym tomorrow and keep practicing.
"It's all a new element for me. I've got brothers, and I come from five brothers so we're always wrestling together, always growing up on that. But the athleticism involved with these big guys—a lot of people don't understand, looking at it from the outside, how hard it really is. Because with all top elite-level athletes, they make things look easy. And when you try, it's not so easy.
"Down at the Performance Center we do a lot of talking about the stuff, the moves and stuff, and I'm like, 'nah, let's just do it. Let's just practice it.' Because in my game, the more you practice something, the better you become at it. And I'm all in for jumping in, flipping, getting smashed to the floor, whatever it takes to learn, I am all for it."
Fury will face the monstrous Braun Strowman at the WWE's fourth controversial Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, leaving him just a couple of weeks to prepare for a high-profile match. A lot goes into a wrestling extravaganza of this nature. There are lines to remember, marks to hit and a distinct art to pretending to maim another man while actually sending him home in the same shape you found him.
Outsiders often end up failing under the bright lights. Fury and WWE coaches are working over time to make sure that doesn't happen.
"He is a showman first and foremost, and it's really what he does," WWE executive Paul Levesque, better known to wrestling fans as the infamous Triple H, said. "But it's not an act; it's not a show. It's just who he is. He's charisma. He's the X-factor. He walks into a room, and you look at him. He is the guy that your eyes are attracted to from a standpoint of just who he is. So [in] that aspect of it, he's custom-built for us.
"I was blown away. I sent Vince (McMahon) a video of him about 45 minutes after the first day he was at the Performance Center, and I said, 'You're not going to believe this, look at what he's already doing.'
"He picks it up so quickly because he's so laser-focused on it. He wants to put on this epic show. He has the desire for it to be great. He's asking for more; he wants more; he's jumping in with both feet. It's almost like having to pull the reins back a little bit to get him to slow down and say, 'maybe we don't want to do that quite yet.' It's amazing to see that level of dedication."
Fury joins a long list of heavyweight boxing champions, from the great Jack Dempsey to "Iron" Mike Tyson, who have spent time in the wrestling ring. But he's the first in decades to do so at the height of his career. In February, he's expected to rematch the toughest fight of his career against Deontay Wilder, leaving many to question the timing of this WWE adventure.
In short, there's a lot at stake for Fury, who is aware there are some in boxing circles who will cringe every time he throws a punch or takes a slam in the wrestling ring, fearing an injury that could put a nine-figure fight at risk.
"My concerns are, I don't have any," Fury said. "My concerns are to enjoy this to the max—a once in a lifetime opportunity for me; [it's] something I've always wanted to do. Injuries can occur walking down the street. I can fall off a curb, snap me ankle, get run over by a bus—that's a part of life. We can't live a life of, what-ifs, because we'd never go out the front door. I'm not a person who lives life like that. Whatever's going to be, will be. I'm just looking forward to it."
While the boxing world frets about Fury's health and well being, Triple H has some additional concerns.
"First and foremost, I worked with him on not caving in Braun's head," he said with a laugh. "Everybody's worried about, like, 'oh my God, Tyson, what if you get hurt?' I'm worried about Braun. Nobody's concerned if Braun gets hurt."
"Yeah, poor old Braun," Fury said.
"Yeah, poor old Braun would be 370-pound Braun laying on his back looking up at the stars, not having any idea that Tyson even threw a punch yet, but he's knocked out," Triple H continued. "I saw Braun the other day. He's actually dropping some weight, believe it or not, in an effort to lighten up because he wants to be faster for this match with Tyson to be able to keep up with him. As seriously as Tyson is taking this, he is as well.
"This is a big opportunity for him, and he's getting in there with one of the biggest stars on the planet in the sporting world. And that's an awesome opportunity and responsibility for him. As much as Tyson wants it to be great, he wants it to be great for him and for Tyson. He certainly doesn't want it to be remembered for that time Tyson Fury came to the WWE and he stunk it up. He's working his butt off for this as well."
The two men are in the midst of a media blitz to get the word out about the fight. But then it's back to Orlando to continue constructing what they hope will be an instant classic of the form.
"When it was presented to me, I thought about it for all of about five seconds before I said yes," Fury said. "I feel I've been doing this in every press conference that I've ever had, and every time I get a hold of that mic when I'm boxing, I felt like I was naturally made to do stuff like this. I'm a natural entertainer, good talker, and confident, and I'm not so shy, shall I say.
"One thing I can guarantee: It's going to be very entertaining, and I'm not looking to just put on a mediocre job. I want it to be spectacular. I want people to be talking about this in years to come. And I don't want it to be a flop. I don't want people to say, 'ah, remember when Tyson Fury went on WWE, what an embarrassment.' That is the last thing I'd ever want. So I want to make it work. So I want to do everything I can to make it work, and whatever it takes I'll do."
Jonathan Snowden covers combat sports for Bleacher Report. Crown Jewel streams live on WWE Network on Thursday, October 31 at 1 pm ET.