Driving the Bus

By Ben Thomsett on January 1, 2019
Driving the Bus
On their nightly run were several million pounds of boxers. (@GypsyKing101/Instagram)

“No-one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” So they say. And those people are right…

The mini bus could seat around 15. It was long and heavy, and was a real bummer to control on a road covered in compacted ice. The outside temperature read -17c. We were in Belgium. Some forest near the Dutch border. I’d never driven a mini bus before and wasn’t sure I even had the correct driving license. There before me in the weaving headlights, on their nightly run, were several million pounds of boxers. Tyson Fury and Hughie Fury amongst them.

The aim of the mini bus was to protect the fighters from other traffic. The roads were unbelievably treacherous. The kind of roads you see near Siberian Gulags. TV weather people had been frowning with joyful schadenfreude night after night. Worst European cold snap for decades. And now, because everyone else wanted to run, there I was, skidding and jerking the bus around narrow lanes, keeping the headlights on the team, and learning fast about the laws of friction and common sense.

Around a ninety-degree corner, someone slipped over on the ice. I was blamed because I hadn’t rounded the bend fast enough to keep the light on the surface. I nodded and jammed the gearbox into first. They set off again. Tyson’s huge frame bobbed and trudged over the ice. He never appeared to be running at all. Trick of his height versus ground speed, I guess. Whatever. These are things you don’t think about too hard when four tons of vehicle are a few feet behind large and dangerous men. And you are controlling the rates of speed. “No-one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” So they say. And those people are right. You cut your teeth on nights like that.

When I finally pulled up in a snowdrift back at base we all stood out on the road talking. The night was clear and the pine trees drew up above us tall and black like giant spent matchsticks. We talked for a while about good pro boxers, good ole boys, street fighters, the old days. Harry Greb. Larry Holmes. Uriah Burton—‘Big Just’. Tyson was going to make his mark among them. He told me he would become world champ and he laid out his plans, breaking down Klitschko, Haye, Chisora, Charr, Pulev, Povetkin, Price, Joshua, one by one should he ever get the chance against them.

Tyson Fury won his fight against Steve Cunningham a month later at Madison Square Garden. I never drove a mini bus again.

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  1. Lucas McCain 04:53am, 01/02/2019

    Somewhere in the snowy night is a retired Driver’s Ed teacher happy to be that way.

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