David Beckham has urged Tyson Fury to clean up his image and take the responsibility of being a role model seriously.
The 27-year-old won the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles when he beat Wladimir Klitschko in November, but has since courted damaging headlines with controversial comments about women and gay people.
When challenged over his comments at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, he apologised for any offence caused before dismissing them as “all very tongue in cheek”.
However, former England football star Beckham insists it is time Fury realised the responsibilities that come with being a champion.
"In the sporting world, when you've been successful, it's a big thing, but it's more important to be a good role model," he told HuffPostUk. "When you're at the top, when you're at the highest point in your sport, being a role model is even more important than anything else.
"He's done well in the ring, let's hope he continues to do well in and outside it."
Fury finished fourth in the voting for the prestigious BBC award despite an online petition signed by 140,000 people demanding he be removed from the shortlist, but he attempted to play down the controversy.
"If I've said anything in the past that's hurt anybody, I apologise,” said Fury. "I've said a lot of stuff in the past and none of it with intentions to hurt anybody. I'm not a very serious kind of person – it's all very happy-go-lucky with Tyson Fury."