November 29, 2015

LONDON (AP) In a German soccer stadium, Tyson Fury dethroned Wladimir Klitschko, paraded his four heavyweight title belts and serenaded his wife from ringside.

In a Belgian exhibition center 150 miles (240 kilometers) away later Sunday, Andy Murray sank to his knees on a clay court before joining his teammates as the first Britons in 79 years to lift the Davis Cup.

Within 16 hours, from boxing to tennis, Britain's ranks of world champions swelled on Sunday. Though starved of international success in its traditional team sports of soccer and rugby, Britain doesn't have to look far for sporting heroes elsewhere.

It's only a month since Lewis Hamilton wrapped up a third Formula One world championship title. Chris Froome won a second Tour de France title in July. The following month Mo Farah added the world 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles to his Olympic accolades.

But the urge to watch Fury capture the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts from Klitschko just after midnight Central European Time nearly proved costly for Murray on the last day of the Davis Cup final.

''I always get a bit nervous watching boxing, especially watching heavyweights,'' Murray said. ''It probably wasn't the smartest thing for me to do last night. I'm obviously happy to be part of a great weekend of sport.''

The tennis triumph would have seemed unthinkable at the start of the decade. Five years ago, Britain was enduring Davis Cup humiliation and came close to relegation to the lowest tier.

Murray has almost single-handedly restored the pride of British tennis - first individually by becoming the first homegrown men's Wimbledon champion in 77 years in 2013 and now by restoring the nation to the pinnacle of the sport's global team competition.

''Think we should rename tomorrow St. Andy's Day,'' Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted on Sunday after Murray claimed the decisive 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Belgium's David Goffin.

Murray is the first Davis Cup player since the 1980s to achieve an 8-0 singles record in a calendar year. Not to mention his victories alongside brother Jamie in the doubles that helped to secure the Davis Cup for Britain for the first time since 1936 when Fred Perry was playing.

''Tennis history made! Andy Murray is a superstar,'' J.K. Rowling, the author of the ''Harry Potter'' books, wrote on Twitter. ''When I was young I didn't want sport to matter, because I was lousy at it. Now I see a place where outstanding people meet in mutual respect.''

For years the tedious joke in British sport has been that Dunblane-born Murray is Scottish when he loses but British when he wins. Draped in the Union Jack on Sunday night in the Flanders Expo in Ghent there was no disputing his allegiances to the entire Union Kingdom.

''Perhaps now we can give Andy Murray the credit and plaudits he deserves,'' tweeted former Barcelona and Tottenham striker Gary Lineker, who never managed to lift a trophy with England.

Once characterized as dour through some English eyes, Murray's far-from-humorless persona has been more warmly received since winning the Olympic title at Wimbledon during the 2012 London Games.

Even with a 25-0 record, Fury, who is of Irish-Gypsy heritage and comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle champions, remains a largely unknown quantity in Britain. That's possibly due to his fights being on pay television while Murray enjoys the benefit of his major matches being free-to-air.

Some of Fury's antics are undoubtedly endearing: From dressing up as Batman in the run-up to the Klitschko showdown to singing Aerosmith's ''I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'' to his pregnant wife in the ring after the unanimous points decision in Dusseldorf.

But the 2.09-meter (6-foot-9) Fury has provoked fury with some of his non-boxing outbursts.

The British Boxing Board of Control fined Fury 3,000 pounds (around $4,500) in 2012 for a foul-mouthed rant that included branding two fellow English boxers ''gay lovers.'' In a recent interview with the Mail on Sunday tabloid newspaper, Fury was quoted as saying that among the ''things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home ... is homosexuality being legal in countries.''

Labour Party legislator Chris Bryant, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, wrote on Twitter: ''I'm not celebrating Tyson Fury's win. His aggressive style of foul homophobia is precisely the kind that leads to young gay suicides.''

As the unbeaten 27-year-old Fury basked in his glory on Sunday, former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was quick to caution the Manchester-born fighter to tone down his trash-talking and antics.

''Now he's champion he has to behave himself a little bit more because there are a lot of kids and people looking up to him,'' Lewis told the BBC. ''If you allow (Fury) to say what he wants without coming back then you are soft to him. He won't respect you unless you directly come back at him.

''But he's a different character in the heavyweight scene. His character captures the imagination of people.''

On a weekend when Britons captured the imagination of the sporting world.

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