Why Tony Bellew’s 'frightening' wife Rachael is the woman he's hanging up his gloves up for

The cruiserweight bruiser has one fight left before he hangs up his gloves, at the request of the one person he fears: his wife Rachael.

His childhood sweetheart Rachael had said divorce was on the cards if he didn't quit – but in one last fight Tony "Bomber" Bellew is facing the biggest challenge of his career when he comes up against undefeated champion Oleksandr Usyk in Manchester tomorrow. 

However, Tony knows that as soon as the last punch has landed, he can look forward to a life of lazy Sundays, cooking dinners for his family, and evenings cosied up in front of the TV with Rachael – who is mum to their three young sons.

The only thing in the way of that idyllic picture is a great big Ukranian with fists of steel… but if Tony can beat him, he'll become the first British boxer to hold all four major belts.

It would take a major upset for Usyk to be dethroned, but Tony isn’t scared – at least not in the same way he is of his wife, Rachael.

Before his last victory against David Haye last May, Tony taunted his opponent by saying: “I’m more frightened of my missus than you. I wouldn’t f***ing dare cross her. I wouldn’t mess with her.

“I will say one thing, I fear no man. I don’t give a f*** about any man on this planet. I would fight any man. I tell you what though, I don’t go home to her with a penny short.

"She's my toughest fight. I said this [fight] would be my last one… That’s a real fight, persuading her if I can carry on."

None of this would be news to Haye, who had already crossed paths with fiery Rachael a year before, when she was seen shouting abuse at Haye from the ringside at another of Tony's fights.


Fellow British champ Tyson Fury is also well aware that Rachael isn't to be crossed, and even rejected Bellew’s offer to fight earlier this year in consideration of her and their three children.

However, Rachael has now allowed her husband one final scrap, before the pair can enjoy a happy ending to their fairytale rags-to-riches story together. 


Rejected three times

Tony and Rachael grew up in nearby Merseyside neighbourhoods and have known each other since they were nine years old.

But it wasn't until one night on the town when Tony was 18, and working as a nightclub bouncer, that he really started to take notice of Rachael.

“I saw her and I thought, 'Wow, she's changed!’” Bellew reminisced last week.

He asked her out, and was rejected three times before she gave in.

An insider close to the childhood sweethearts said: “Their first date was a trip to the cinema and a milkshake before it.

“Rachael told him that if he wasn't the perfect gentleman to her on the date, he'd blow his only chance.

"So right from the off it was clear to him that she was a strong woman who didn't take any nonsense.”

Since then, Rachael’s strength hasn't wavered, and today her fierce protection over her husband has become notorious.

The woman who stuck by him throughout

But Tony's route to the top wasn't easy: in the early days of their relationship he was a small-time amateur, making just £100 from each fight.

He had to work a string of other low-paid jobs to make ends meet, and worked as a labourer and a lifeguard in addition to doing shifts in security, retail, and even in a pillow factory. 

Rachael stuck by Tony throughout, and eventually his persistence paid off. 

After winning close to 50 bouts in the early Noughties, it was in 2007 that he finally turned pro.

Tony's rise to fame continued, and he even became friends with his idol, fellow Liverpudlian and his Everton hero, Wayne Rooney.

Yet despite his success and his wealth – he’s believed to be worth £9.6 million – you won’t find Tony hanging out in showbiz circles or at the centre of any scandals.

'He has all he needs in Rach'

When he finally tied the knot with Rachael last year, it was at a private, low-key ceremony in Cheshire’s Peckforton Castle.

His wife and kids – Corey, Cobey and Carter – are his sole focus, and she’s never had concern of his fame and achievement turning his head.

Our source explains: “Because he's been with her since they were teenagers, Rachael's extremely confident and assured about her place in the relationship and there's no doubt she's the one who wears the trousers.

“In truth, he may be the breadwinner, but she's the one who runs the ship behind closed doors and that's the way he likes it.

“Tony has a very simple philosophy about his private life – he doesn't need all the trappings of fame because he has everything he needs in Rach.”

Tight purse strings and keeping the family in line

Rachael, who is a stay-at-home mum, is also credited with keeping her husband grounded. His daily routine consists of training then going home to his family.

“When Tony isn't training in the gym, he prioritises his time with Rachael and the children," our source says. "He loves to cook for her and their favourite thing is just being at home together watching TV and chilling.

“They're each other's best friends so it's not like they always need to be doing something really big or lavish to enjoy themselves."

Tony is a hands-on dad who loves "goofing around" with his kids, while Rachael will "keep them all in line".

While they enjoy family holidays and have a nice home in Merseyside near their families, Rachael is said to be strict on not letting the children become spoilt.

Our insider reveals: “They teach the kids that just because daddy has made good money, they aren't going to have a different life to other children."

A movie star who shuns the fame game

In 2014, Tony got a phone call asking him to star as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan in Rocky spin-off Creed, alongside Sylvester Stallone.

While the 2015 film massively benefited Tony financially, he’s since said he couldn’t wait to return home after each day on set.

And his movie experience made him more adamant that he “hated fame”.

"I am honoured when kids come up to me and tell my they idolise me, or whatever,” he said after the film. “But I don’t want that because I am nobody’s idol. I am just a normal bloke who likes having a fight. I am nothing special. I do not see myself that way.”

Family tragedy causing pain in the ring

Sadly, when Tony walks into the ring on Saturday, there will be a part of him missing. 

Last year, the boxer was devastated when his best friend, Rachael’s 33-year-old brother, Ashley, died during a family holiday to Cancun, Mexico.

After beating Haye last May, Tony burst into tears in the ring. He had also paid £3,000 for an empty seat where his brother-in-law would have sat.

“I’ve been a mess," he sobbed in the post-fight interview. "I’ve been on my own all week and each night I’ve cried. He's been on my mind since August, I miss him so much.

"His Dad was here tonight, his two brothers, I left an empty seat tonight. I left an empty seat and I was with him.

"I'm messed up but we're going to get through it as a family."

The final fight

And family will be Bellew’s main focus from Saturday, when he retires from boxing.

In a recent Instagram post, the hardman showed his soft side as he paid tribute to Rachael, writing against a family photo: “I couldn’t have picked a better mother for [my three sons]. They have no idea how lucky they are to have a mother like they have. Well done Rach, you’ve done a boss job, girl.”

And while he is likely to maintain a close connection to the sport which made him famous, Tony will soon have more time for the things that matter to him the most – his close circle of friends and family.

Our source says: “Even though Rachael and Tony are constantly asked to meet different celebrities, that kind of life just isn't for them.

“Once a month, they'll have friends around for dinner and it's always the same group. Rachael and Tony have no desire to start social climbing or anything like that.”

Bellew sums it up himself. While he’ll admittedly miss his lucrative career, just days before his final fight, he reminded himself of the reasons behind his retirement.

In tribute to his loved ones, he said: “Rachael and the kids mean the world and more to me. They are the focus now as I contemplate calling time.

"It's satisfying to see how it worked out and soon I'll be able to be a totally normal dad.”

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