The smooches came after a gay man confronted Fury, 27, in a bar in Poulton-le-Fylde, near Lancashire, England, on Dec. 16. Paul Cole, a 41-year-old shop manager, told The Sun that he wanted to express his distaste for controversial remarks Fury had made about homosexuality in a November interview with the Daily Mail.
“I told him, ‘I can’t stand you.’ He said he wasn’t homophobic and suddenly rubbed my beard and kissed me on both cheeks,” Cole said. The boxer, who defeated Wladimir Klitschko to become WBA and WBO world heavyweight champion in November, then proudly posed with Cole for a series of cozy-looking selfies.
Whether or not Fury's friendly pecks will change his public image, however, is another story. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Fury argued that "the devil is very strong at the minute, very strong, and I believe the end is near," and cited the wider acceptance of gay rights as evidence.
"There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s pedophilia," he said in the interview. "Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalized?"
The remarks prompted over 138,000 people to sign a petition to remove Fury from consideration for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 because of his views on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
"The BBC clearly do not understand that by nominating Fury, who has on a number of occasions expressed homophobic views and compared homosexuality to pedophilia, they are putting him up as a role model to young people all over the U.K. and the world," the petition reads.
Of course, the Daily Mail interview wasn't the first time Fury had courted controversy with anti-gay remarks. In 2013, he referred to fellow boxer Tony Bellew as the "gay lover" of David Price, another fighter.
Sorry, Tyson, we think you're gonna need to try a little harder.
Also on HuffPost: