Steve Bunce on Boxing: Tyson Fury's uncle breathes life into Fast Eddie to revive an endangered species: the great American heavyweight

In 2010 a heavyweight fighter from Philadelphia called Fast Eddie Chambers added his name to the long list of American men bludgeoned at the fists of Wladimir Klitschko.

On the night in Düsseldorf, Chambers conceded nearly three stone in weight, six inches in height and still survived until the last five seconds of the 12th round. Chambers was fearless in defeat, facing certain pain but using his boxing wits, often the rarest commodity in the sport's extreme division, to last into the final round before a left to the temple collapsed his resistance.

Fast Eddie was dubbed Fastfood Eddie because it looked like his conditioning had more to do with fried chicken than roadwork, but the way he handled the imperious Wladimir demonstrated that he was a very good fighter.

There was something familiar about the way Chambers went about his business, something in the way he moved, threw his shots, retreated and covered up. It was simple: Chambers is one of last of the American heavyweights, an endangered species in the top division.

"I was taught by the old masters I watched in the Philly gyms and by my father," said Chambers. "We would watch old films of the great boxers and I would look at what they did. In the gyms I was surrounded by men that had been at the heart and soul of boxing for a long, long time. They brought me up in boxing."

Chambers had started to box in Pittsburgh and moved to Philadelphia after nine fights when a local fight figure saw him box and noticed something in the way Chambers moved.

In Philadelphia he fought and won 17 consecutive fights at the Blue Horizon, arguably the fight game's most iconic venue. Chambers was learning and fighting the old way in front of blue-collar fans who knew what they were watching for their $15 or $20 entry fee. It was an apprenticeship from the Fifties, make no mistake.

There were world title eliminators that he won and lost against good fighters in Germany and then came the Klitschko night. "He was too big for me then," admitted Chambers. It was after the Klitschko loss that Eddie's boxing life started to fall apart.

On 13 January, Chambers arrived at a mixed martial arts gym near Cannes; he was in bad condition, both flabby in the gut and in the head. However, Chambers was on a one-way mission, a bold move to turn his boxing life around, and he had flown in to join the travelling Fury clan at their French retreat.

"It was obvious how good Eddie was from the very first day," said Peter Fury, who trains unbeaten heavyweights Tyson Fury, his nephew, and Hughie Fury, his son, and a growing list of other fighters. "He made sacrifices to join us and he is still making those sacrifices by staying here with us." Chambers has not yet gone home and now lives near the Fury gym in Bolton.

When Chambers arrived at Fury's French base he had lost three of his previous four fights, was confused about his weight and becoming equally desolate and disillusioned with a business that quickly forgets its losers.

He was just another one of the Americans who had failed against a Klitschko and was not in the mix for any future eliminators; Chambers was one fight away from oblivion – and he knew it.

"My career was in intensive care," said the 32-year-old. "Joining up with Peter saved my life; I was ready to walk away from the sport before sitting down with Peter. It is that simple."

Chambers started to change shape immediately as diet and dedication – two factors that were missing in a decade of decline by America's best heavyweights – helped to structure his training. The boxers worked on solitary beach runs, long days in the converted gym and a lot of open sparring sessions.

In March, Chambers fought and won. He did the same the following month and will box for a third time under Fury's control on 17 May in Leeds. "Eddie will get another shot at the world title," said Fury. "We have still not seen the best of Eddie, not by a long way."

This Saturday in Los Angeles the vacant WBC heavyweight title will be fought for by local man Chris Arreola and Las Vegas-based Haitian Bermane Stiverne. It is possibly the start of an American heavyweight renaissance, and Chambers is likely to be heavily involved in that.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'