He is an ex-heavyweight champion of the world who fought Mike Tyson not once, but twice. He is an outspoken mental health activist and accomplished actor. One of Britain’s most well-loved sports personalities, Frank Bruno the former professional boxer competed from 1892 to 1996. Although he is now retired, he remains active through varied appearance requests—ranging from dinner events, charity fund raisers and theatre shows.
On Saturday January 12th Frank Bruno was in Hua Hin for a Gala Dinner at the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort where he wowed the crowd with stories of glory as well as some of his life’s darker moments. Sponsored by Orchid Palm Homes in association with Thai Visa, the InterContinental’s ballroom was filled with fans who were thrilled to be able to share their own personal moments with the champ of watching his fights back in the day as well as taking cherished photos with the ex-heavyweight champion.
Franklyn Roy Bruno was born on November 16, 1961 to Robert and Lynette Bruno in Hammersmith, London. As a child, he attended Swaffield Primary and Oak Hill Schools in Sussex, England. By the age of 9, he was boxing at the local Wandsworth Boys Club. Bruno credits his father as one of his greatest inspirations, including his trainer, the late George Francis, his first amateur trainer John Levington and his manager Terry Lawless.
As an amateur boxer he amassed a 20-1 career, losing only to (and eventually beating) Joe Christie while representing the Philip Game Amateur Boxing Club. His amateur career culminated with Frank boxing for Young England and becoming the youngest ever Amateur British Champion at 18 years of age. Bruno was signed as a professional shortly afterwards in 1982. He had a highly publicized and extremely eventful career, highlighted by him winning the WBC heavyweight title from Oliver McCall in 1995. He holds an impressive 95% knockout rate from 40 of the 45 fights he won. He has also won the European heavyweight title in 1985.
Shortly after he became world champion, Bruno faced Mike Tyson for the second time—the first was in 1989 when he challenged Tyson for the same title. Bruno performed unusually poorly due to a severe eye injury and he was beaten in round three. This bout turned out to be his last as a professional as he was advised not to fight any more at risk of permanent blindness in his damaged eye. Bruno retired soon after the fight. However, he still remains physically fit and boxing is still part of his training routine. Bruno completed the 2011 London Marathon which is the third marathon he has run successfully. He has also run numerous half marathons, in support of charity.
Bruno now spends his free time on varied appearance requests. Between 2004 and 2012, he made personal appearances, acted in TV shows and voice over adverts. Some of his notable TV appearances include The Sooty Show, The Royal Variety Show and Sports Relief. He has also appeared on the sofa with Piers Morgan and Philip Scofield. In addition, he has also performed as Robin Hood in Bristol and Bradford, as well as Ringmaster in Goldilocks and the 3 Bears in Birmingham. In 2013, Bruno was featured with his daughter Rachel in the BBC Three documentary Rachel Bruno: My Dad and Me. A known music lover, his favorites include Gregory Isaac, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Sting, Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, Ray Charles, George Michael, Mary J Blige and Sammy Davis Jr. In 1995, he released a cover version of “Eye of the Tiger” and in 2006, he was one of a number of celebrities who were recorded on the World Cup song, “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann?”
Bruno married Laura Mooney in 1990 and shares three children with her-Nicola, Rachel and Franklyn. They divorced in 2001 after which Bruno states he hit rock bottom. “It was too much pressure, too much pressure,” added Bruno. “I was driving all over the country and getting home and then cooking, ironing and cleaning. I lost it, I couldn’t go on.” He was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder in 2003. Bruno has long since spoken of his stance on mental health saying “Mental illness is a terrible thing to have to cope with but I’ve learnt it’s a fight you can win if you live your life the right way”. He established The Frank Bruno Foundation and also supports many charities for mental health, both financially and with his time. He is also a patron for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust, a children’s charity. In 2006, Bruno and his partner Yvonne Clydesdale announced the birth of their daughter Freya.
Bruno was awarded the MBE in 1990 for his services to boxing and he received an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University for boxing achievements and work with mental health issues. Speaking after he picked up his doctorate award, the former WBC heavyweight champion said: “This honour, I would like to think, it’s not only for my achievements in boxing, but also in recognition of the work and the constant battle I’m trying to fight on behalf of the sufferers and caregiver’s of sufferers who have experienced this terrible curse of mental health. “I am honoured more than I can truly express in these few words and I thank the people that put me forward and voted for me to get this honour.”
Bruno has also published two books, including his autobiography Frank: Fighting Back which won the Best Autobiography category of the British Sports Book Awards in 2006.