BIG-HEARTED boxing champ Tyson Fury sent a heartwarming personal video message to a fan who tried to take his own life to spur him on before he took part in a charity boxing bout.

The 30-year-old former heavyweight champion boxer reached out to fan Karl Jones, who turned to boxing after seeking help for the mental illness which "robbed him of his character".

Karl, 32, revealed the sport has helped him transform his life, with Fury a key part of that.

Just hours before the sign maker stepped in the ring for a charity bout with Ultra White Collar Boxing, Fury sent a personal message direct to Karl.

Filming the video from the passenger seat of a car while wearing sunglasses, Fury said: "I just want to wish Karl all the best for his fight tonight.

"I read his story, I know he was about to commit suicide and he was inspired by my story. Quite the turnaround Karl, to be back boxing and helping mental health. Congratulations buddy, you're doing a fantastic job.

"Anybody can come back, like I have proved and like you have proved. Good luck in your fight mate, continue to keep battling forward."

After seeing the personal message from his hero, Karl stepped out in front of hundreds of vocal supporters at The Dolphin Centre in Darlington, on Saturday night.

He even used his hero's walk on music, Freed from Desire by Gala, before his three-round bout, which he drew.

Karl, of Pensbury Street, Darlington, said: "I was so chuffed to get a personal video message from Tyson before my bout.

"I couldn't believe that he'd heard about me and then took the time out so send it over.

"I've watched it so many times but still can't believe he did that for me. He's been a huge inspiration for me having come through so much and to then get back in the ring.

"I've found the whole Ultra White Collar Boxing experience to be amazing and it's really helped me.

"I would recommend anyone to give it a go - it has been so positive for me. I'm now considering signing up to do it again."

Karl said he decided to get back into boxing, a sport he first took up as a 14 year old, after seeing Fury talk about mental health at the end of a match against Deontay Wilder last year.

Karl said: "At the end, he did a post-fight interview and he talked about mental health. He said 'if you're down, reach out, talk to people'. He said 'if I can do it, you can do it'.

"It was that which made me go back into boxing, and I wish I could thank him personally.

"It had been creeping up on me for years, but in June last year I knew something was wrong. I didn't want to die, it was the pain and suffering inside that I wanted to get rid of.

"I went to hospital, and I told them I didn't want life anymore. I had lost my character, I didn't feel like myself.

"At the time, I didn't believe in depression. Now, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's a cancer to the mind, and it takes lives.

"Boxing has helped me a lot. If I hadn't liked Tyson as a boxer, if he hadn't gone back to fighting and then said all of that about mental health, I think I would be gone.

"It's the first time I've enjoyed myself in months. It's the only thing that keeps me going.

"Tyson Fury is my number one favourite boxer, and it feels like I'm living the same life as him.

"He was world champion, but initially when he got back into boxing, it was his last fight. He was the exact same as me - leaving boxing, and later returning to it. I'm not a famous champion boxer, but it's the same story."

Jon Leonard, who runs Ultra Events, said: “I am full of admiration for Karl. It is so brave for him to tell his story.

“I believe Karl’s courage will now inspire others to make a positive change to their lives.

“Depression is a terrible illness and as Karl rightly points out it takes lives.

“We have so many people come to us who are suffering from depression and in many cases it is remarkable the change which we witness in many of them."

Ultra Events gives people the chance to take centre stage and raise money for Cancer Research UK. It also offers ballroom dancing, mixed martial arts, darts and comedy.

Boxing participants are given the opportunity to take part eight weeks of free professional training before a showcase event in front of hundreds of spectators.

Those taking part are asked to sell tickets for the show and raise at least £50 for Cancer Research UK.

So far, Ultra Events – the company behind the event – has raised a staggering £17m for Cancer Research UK.

In Darlington alone, people have raised more than £65,000 for the charity by taking part in boxing events organised by Ultra.