Frank Bruno: Why Does England Love This Man?

frank brunoBy Ziggy Shah: After finding some spare time in my hectic lifestyle, I decided to flick through some old boxing magazines I had been collecting since I was a kid. One in particular caught my eye. It was the May edition of the K.O magazine, 1988. In it there was a special feature written by Jeff Ryan about Frank Bruno, entitled, “Why Does England Love This Man?”

Talk had begun of a possible match-up between Bruno and Tyson, and Mr Ryan was discussing the Englishman’s chances, if and when it happened. He asked questions such as, “how can the British public ignore reality and support him so enthusiastically?”

The writer also seemed baffled by the fact that 32,000 British fans had packed out White Hart Lane, Tottenham, in 1987 to see him fight Joe Bugner, and that the event attracted a gate of $5million..

He pulled no punches and even made a reference to the British fight game as being, ‘as stable as a cabin cruiser caught in a tidal wave.’ There were also a few hooks directed towards Terry Marsh and Lloyd Honeyghan for good measure.

After all the hype, the fight was made and took place in The Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas in 1989. Tyson was the main draw, as the Tyson of the 80’s was a one man ‘whirlwind’ who fought with the kind of aggression that had not been seen in a heavyweight since Jack Dempsey. The world had already seen Tyson annihilate Trevor Berbick in two rounds, and it had also witnessed the slaying of the legendary Michael Spinks inside one round, and that night they had turned out to see another cold-hearted explosive display.

The first round was indeed furious as Bruno went down, and all the pre-fight prediction seemed to be coming true. However, he got up, and with a minute left he hurt the champ with a sweet left hook and pressed home with a barrage, hurting Tyson again with a left hand. The crowd went wild, and as the round came to a close, the respected, US commentator, Larry Merchant, said, “one man down, the other hurt, I’ll take it.”

Bruno started the second round strongly, however, towards the end Tyson exploded with a straight right. It connected with such force that ripples could be seen running through his back; but he absorbed it and fired back with seconds remaining.

However, in the third, it was all Tyson, as he began to fire home hard combinations. It started to become apparent that if Frank was going out, he was going out on ‘his shield.’

If you don’t believe me, watch the left hook that Tyson detonated on Bruno’s chin at the end of the third round. It would have flattened any fighter in any era. Incidentally, the punch was thrown after the bell and was a prime moment for Frank to go down and stay down, thus create major controversy. But he had not come to lie down, contrary to most of the pre-fight reports from critics and reporters alike.

Bruno wanted it badly, and if it meant he had to put his life on the line, he would have done so gracefully. However, in the fifth round, Tyson’s assault became more deadly as left hooks and uppercuts found their mark with regular ease. When the end came it was a vicious reminder to the entire world, just why Mike Tyson was considered the greatest finisher of the modern era.

The onslaught was so brutal even Referee Richard Steele was seen grimacing just before he moved in to stop the fight.
Bruno was helpless on the ropes; he was bruised, physically and mentally. He had absorbed a beating which would have left other boxers close to death. Yet, when you see him, half conscious up against the ropes as his corner man climbs in to hold him; he is still standing. Mr Ryan had joked in his feature that Bruno’s chin was the London Bridge: Hit him solidly and he’ll end up falling down, falling down, falling down. However that was not the case as Bruno finished on his feet.

Weeks after the fight, Tyson’s failure to knockout Bruno was emphasised by many reporters who claimed the champ was not at his best. Reports began to circulate that he was not mentally prepared, as he had a lot of domestic problems at the time.

Rubbish! If the heavyweight champion is not mentally and physically ready to defend his title on fight night, he does not deserve to be called champ. It would be an insult to the most prestigious belt in sport.

Mr Ryan wanted to know why England loved this man. The answer was/is simple. Frank may not have had the speed and technical ability of modern-day great, but he was/is British and every time he entered the ring, he gave 100% to both his country and trainer. Throughout his career, that spanned a day short of fourteen years, he remained humble, honest, and showed dignity to all his opponents. Outside the ring, despite a troublesome upbringing, he has remained a gentleman, and continues to work tirelessly for charities and those that are underprivileged.

I ask you Mr Ryan, which country could not love such a man?


Available at:
(2005) Available at:
(1988) KO Magazine, TV sports Inc, New York

Davies, G. (2009) Available at:

Article posted on 24.04.2009

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