Boxing legend Bruno delights fight fans

The Champ is here...boxing legend Frank Bruno
The Champ is here...boxing legend Frank Bruno

BRITISH boxing legend Frank Bruno – one of Britain’s best loved sporting personalities – charmed his Scottish audience at Bellshill’s Hilton Strathclyde Hotel on Saturday night.

Bruno (53), who became WBC world heavyweight champion by beating Oliver McCall 20 years ago, was in fine fettle at a special Question and Answer session and three course meal for over 100 fight fans.

Although Frank’s iconic ‘guffaw’ laugh was out in force throughout the evening, the hulking 6ft 3’ former building site worker also dealt authoratively with serious questions like being accused of doing too much weightlifting and not enough cardio work in his heyday by the evening’s first question poser.

“I think you’ve got it wrong,” replied Frank, who won 40 of his 45 professional fights before finally having to retire in 1996 after almost being blinded during a loss to Mike Tyson.

“I used to mix it up. My body looked as if I didn’t do much cardio, but I used to go for five-mile runs and sprinting. My body was always muscly from the beginning to the end.

“I was addicted to training and getting myself in condition.”

Bruno also hit back at accusations that he’d failed to capitalise on rocking Mike Tyson in the first round of their 1989 world title fight, a contest which the American star ultimately won with a fifth round stoppage.

Frank said: “I’m not that kinky that if I’d hurt Mike Tyson I would stand back. I did go forward and I was trying to finish off the fight. In boxing, when you hurt somebody they are more dangerous and more slippery.”

Frank – who won his first 21 professional bouts after starting at that level in 1982 – suffered his first pro defeat when knocked out by future heavyweight world champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith in 1984.

Although the British star was also knocked out by Tim Witherspoon in a WBA heavyweight title fight in 1986, Bruno was finally to become world heavyweight champ by beating McCall in their WBC clash nine years later.

A consistent ringside presence during Frank’s professional career was legendary BBC TV boxing commentator Harry Carpenter, who died aged 84 in 2010. Carpenter’s affection for Bruno was such that he once exclaimed in a live commentary: “Get in there Frank” as Bruno dominated the early stages of his first Tyson fight.

“Harry was a very special man,” Frank said. “He was very down to earth and fun to be around.

“Harry was a legend and a classy guy.”

An Evening with the Legendary Frank Bruno was presented by EBF Scotland and Johnston Press thanks organiser Frank Gilhooley of The Fighting Scots Gym for all his assistance with this article.