Franklin Roy "Frank" Bruno, MBE (born 16 November 1961) is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1982 to 1996. Bruno had a highly publicised and extremely eventful career. The pinnacle of his boxing career was winning the WBC heavyweight title, in what was his fourth world championship challenge. He also held the European heavyweight title earlier in his career. Bruno was one of the most well-loved and recognisable boxers in British history, and faced multiple top-rated heavyweights during his career including two bouts with Mike Tyson and a domestic clash against Lennox Lewis. He won the WBC title in 1995 after defeating Oliver McCall at a packed Wembley Stadium. Bruno was known for his excellent punching power: he won 40 of his 45 bouts and 38 by knockout, giving him a 95% knockout rate from the fights he won; his overall knockout percentage is 84.44%. Like Henry Cooper before him, Bruno has remained a popular celebrity with the British public following his retirement from boxing.

Professional career

Bruno became a professional boxer in 1982, quickly achieving 21 consecutive wins by knockout. This streak caught the attention of international boxing magazines, such as The Ring, KO Magazine, Boxing Illustrated and Ring En Español. During this period Bruno defeated former world title contender Scott LeDoux, the fringe contender Floyd Cummings, Belgian champion Rudy Gauwe, British contenders Tony Moore and Eddie Nielson, and opponents such as Bill Sharkey, Walter Santemore and Ken Lakusta. However, in May 1984 the up-and-coming future world heavyweight champion, American James "Bonecrusher" Smith, halted that streak when he defeated Bruno by knockout in the tenth and final round of their bout, with Bruno leading clearly on all three judges' cards. As a general view, Bruno was carefully guided by his then manager Terry Lawless, whereby he developed well to later give a strong account of himself in the big matches.

European heavyweight champion and WBA title challenge

Bruno won his next six bouts against respected opposition. He won the European heavyweight title with a KO over Sweden's Anders Eklund, KO'd former European champion and world title contender Lucien Rodriguez in one round, was taken the distance for the first time by the useful world rated Phil Brown, and beat fringe fighters Larry Frazier and Jeff Jordan.

Bruno got back into title contention with an impressive one-round KO win over former WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee of South Africa, and, in July 1986, he challenged Tim Witherspoon for the WBA heavyweight title. After once again leading on the cards for most of the fight, he ran out of steam and was defeated by knockout in round eleven.

Bruno once again got himself back into title contention with wins over former contender James Tillis and journeymen Reggie Gross and Chuck Gardner. In October 1987 Bruno faced the veteran Joe Bugner in an all British match up. Bugner although long past his peak, was coming off impressive wins over Greg Page, James Tillis and David Bey. Bruno won by TKO in the 8th round, the referee stopping the bout, although it appeared the protesting Bugner could have continued.

Bruno vs. Tyson

In February 1989, Bruno challenged Mike Tyson for the undisputed world heavyweight title. In the opening moments, the fighters came together with huge punches. Bruno's legs buckled, and he took a big step back, inadvertently stepping off the ring apron. Most agree that he would have gone down, at least to a knee in any event, and this was called a knockdown. Bruno did not complain, and instead gathered himself to continue, ultimately rocking Tyson (for the first time in Tyson's career) with a left hook toward the end of the round. However, Tyson recovered and eventually beat Bruno when the referee stopped the contest in round five with Bruno taking heavy punishment, lying helpless on the ropes.

Bruno kept winning fights, helping him to retain his spot as one of the world's leading heavyweights. He defeated contender Carl Williams, and then journeymen such as Jose Ribalta, Pierre Coetzer, and Dutchman Jan Emmen.

Bruno vs. Lewis

In 1993 he had a third world title chance against young Lennox Lewis, who was making the second defence of the belt (his first of three championship reigns). The Lennox Lewis vs. Frank Bruno fight was the first time that two British boxers had fought for the world heavyweight title.[1] Lewis beat Bruno on a stoppage in round seven, Bruno again failing to take his title chance after leading the contest on points up until what proved the final round.

Bruno again regrouped, dispatching trialhorse Jesse Ferguson in one round, and the fringe contenders Rodolfo Marin and Mike Evans equally easily.

WBC heavyweight champion and retirement

On 2 September 1995, Bruno finally became world champion by outpointing WBC Champion Oliver McCall over twelve rounds. Bruno did not last long as champion – the contract he signed to get McCall meant he had to face Mike Tyson in his first defence. Tyson beat Bruno on a stoppage in round three,[2] Bruno performing unusually poorly in what turned out to be his last bout as a professional, due to a severe eye injury caused by Tyson. Bruno was advised not to fight again to avoid running the risk of causing any more damage to it, which could result in permanent blindness. Bruno retired soon after the fight.

Bruno's publicist throughout most of his career was sports historian Norman Giller, who wrote three books in harness with Frank: Know What I Mean, Eye of the Tiger and From Zero to Hero. His manager for all but his last five fights was Terry Lawless, who signed him as a professional shortly after he had become ABA heavyweight champion at the age of eighteen.

Professional boxing record

Professional record summary
45 fights 40 wins 5 losses
By knockout 38 5
By decision 2 0
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
45 Loss 40–5 United States Mike Tyson TKO 3 (12), 0:50 16 Mar 1996 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, US Lost WBC heavyweight title
44 Win 40–4 United States Oliver McCall UD 12 2 Sep 1995 United Kingdom Wembley Stadium, London, England Won WBC heavyweight title
43 Win 39–4 United States Mike Evans KO 2 (10), 3:05 13 May 1995 United Kingdom Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, Scotland
42 Win 38–4 Puerto Rico Rodolfo Marin KO 1 (10), 1:05 18 Feb 1995 United Kingdom Bath & West Country Showground, Shepton Mallet, England
41 Win 37–4 United States Jesse Ferguson TKO 1 (10), 2:22 16 Mar 1994 United Kingdom National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England
40 Loss 36–4 United Kingdom Lennox Lewis TKO 7 (12), 1:12 1 Oct 1993 United Kingdom Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Wales For WBC heavyweight title
39 Win 36–3 United States Carl Williams TKO 10 (10), 0:29 24 Apr 1993 United Kingdom National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England
37 Win 35–3 South Africa Pierre Coetzer TKO 8 (10) 17 Oct 1992 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
36 Win 34–3 Cuba Jose Ribalta KO 2 (10), 1:44 22 Apr 1992 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
36 Win 33–3 Netherlands John Emmen TKO 1 (10), 3:00 20 Nov 1991 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
35 Loss 32–3 United States Mike Tyson TKO 5 (12), 2:55 25 Feb 1989 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, US For WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles
34 Win 32–2 Australia Joe Bugner TKO 8 (10), 3:00 24 Oct 1987 United Kingdom White Hart Lane, London, England
33 Win 31–2 United States Reggie Gross TKO 8 (10) 30 Aug 1987 Spain Nueva Andalucia Bullring, Marbella, Spain
32 Win 30–2 United States Chuck Gardner TKO 1 (10), 0:55 27 Jun 1987 France Palais des Festivals et des Congres, Cannes, France
31 Win 29–2 United States James Tillis TKO 5 (10), 1:57 24 Mar 1987 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
30 Loss 28–2 United States Tim Witherspoon TKO 11 (12), 2:57 19 Jul 1986 United Kingdom Wembley Stadium, London, England For WBA heavyweight title
29 Win 28–1 South Africa Gerrie Coetzee KO 1 (10), 1:50 4 Mar 1986 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
28 Win 27–1 United States Larry Frazier KO 2 (10), 2:14 4 Dec 1985 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
27 Win 26–1 Sweden Anders Eklund KO 4 (12), 0:20 1 Oct 1985 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England Won European heavyweight title
26 Win 25–1 France Lucien Rodriguez TKO 1 (10), 2:39 26 Mar 1985 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
25 Win 24–1 United States Phillip Brown PTS 10 27 Nov 1984 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
24 Win 23–1 United States Jeff Jordan TKO 3 (10), 1:50 6 Nov 1984 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
23 Win 22–1 Canada Ken Lakusta KO 2 (10) 25 Sep 1984 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
22 Loss 21–1 United States James Smith KO 10 (10) 13 May 1984 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
21 Win 21–0 Argentina Juan Antonio Figueroa TKO 1 (10), 0:57 13 Mar 1984 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
20 Win 20–0 United States Walter Santemore KO 4 (10), 0:50 6 Dec 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
19 Win 19–0 United States Floyd Cummings TKO 7 (10), 2:43 11 Oct 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
18 Win 18–0 United States Bill Sharkey KO 1 (10), 2:08 27 Sep 1983 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
17 Win 17–0 United States Mike Jameson KO 1 (10), 1:30 9 Jul 1983 United States DiVinci Manor, Chicago, Illinois, US
16 Win 16–0 United States Barry Funches TKO 5 (10), 0:52 31 May 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
15 Win 15–0 United States Scott LeDoux TKO 3 (10), 1:35 3 May 1983 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
14 Win 14–0 United Kingdom Eddie Neilson TKO 3 (10), 0:25 5 Apr 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
13 Win 13–0 United Kingdom Winston Allen TKO 2 (10), 1:25 1 Mar 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
12 Win 12–0 Uganda Peter Mulindwa Kozza KO 3 (10), 1:37 8 Feb 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
11 Win 11–0 United Kingdom Stewart Lithgo RTD 4 (8), 3:00 18 Jan 1983 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
10 Win 10–0 Costa Rica Gilberto Acuna TKO 1 (10), 0:40 7 Dec 1982 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
9 Win 9–0 Germany George Butzbach TKO 1 (8), 2:00 23 Nov 1982 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
8 Win 8–0 Belgium Rudy Gauwe KO 2 (8), 0:20 9 Nov 1982 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
7 Win 7–0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Ali Lukasa TKO 2 (8) 23 Oct 1982 Germany Berlin, Germany
6 Win 6–0 United Kingdom George Scott TKO 1 (8), 2:42 14 Sep 1982 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
5 Win 5–0 United Kingdom Tony Moore TKO 2 (8) 1 Jun 1982 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
4 Win 4–0 United States Ronald Gibbs TKO 4 (8) 4 May 1982 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
3 Win 3–0 United States Abdul Muhaymin KO 1 (8), 2:25 20 Apr 1982 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
2 Win 2–0 United States Harvey Steichen TKO 2 (8), 2:30 30 Mar 1982 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
1 Win 1–0 Mexico Lupe Guerra KO 1 (8) 17 Mar 1982 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England Professional debut

Personal life

Bruno grew up with five siblings in Wandsworth, South West London. His mother was Jamaican and his father was Dominican.[3] In 1990, Bruno married his partner Laura at a small church in Hornchurch, an area of Greater London near the border with Essex. They had two daughters: Nicola and Rachel, and a son, Franklyn.[4] However, their relationship deteriorated, and they divorced in 2001.[5]

On 22 September 2003, Bruno was taken from his home near Brentwood in Essex by medical staff assisted by police officers, under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983. He was taken to Goodmayes Hospital in Ilford, where he underwent psychological and psychiatric tests.[6] He had been suffering from depression for several months beforehand. He was later diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.[7] On 9 October 2005 he admitted that his cocaine use, which began in 2000, contributed to his mental health problems.[8] Media coverage of Bruno's problems raised controversy, the principal accusations being gross intrusion and insensitivity. Particular criticism was aimed at The Sun, whose headline in the first editions the next day read "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up". Second editions retracted the headline and attempted to portray a more sympathetic attitude towards Bruno and mental health in general.[9] As an attempt at atonement, the paper established a charity fund for people suffering from mental illness, although some mental health charities condemned The Sun's latter action that day as being grossly cynical in the light of the former. On 24 February 2008, Bruno offered his support to former footballer Paul Gascoigne, who on 21 February had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.[10] Bruno also spoke on his own personal experiences in the mental health system at a conference run by Hari Sewell, on 22 June 2009.[11] In December 2013, Bruno spoke to the Daily Mirror in support of their mental health campaign, stating: "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".[12]

In December 2005, Bruno announced that he was to become a father for the fourth time since finding new romance with old friend Yvonne Clydesdale. The pair, who first met five years previously at a health resort, began dating months after bumping into each other at a wine bar near his home. Yvonne gave birth to baby Freya on 10 May 2006. On 10 October 2006, Bruno and Clydesdale were jointly awarded £50,000 damages for libel against The People newspaper and publishers MGN in respect of false claims made about their relationship.[13]

In 2006, Bruno published an autobiography Frank: Fighting Back. It won the Best Autobiography category of the British Sports Book Awards.[14]

Media appearances and non-boxing interests

Bruno's image was enhanced by his relationship with the BBC boxing commentator Harry Carpenter, his appearances on the early Comic Relief programmes in the 1980s and his frequent appearances thereafter on television and on stage (in pantomime).

In 1991, he opened "The Ultimate" at Lightwater Valley which was, at the time, the longest roller coaster in the world. He described the ride "scarier than Mike Tyson".

In 1993 (aired Tuesday, 30th of March) Frank briefly appeared as a guest on CITV's "Finders Keepers" hosted by Neil Buchanan.

In 1995, the year of his world championship, he released a cover version of "Eye of the Tiger", the theme song of the movie Rocky III. It reached No. 28 in the UK charts. In 1999, he featured on the celebrity special in the second season of Fort Boyard.

In January 2001, Bruno announced that he wanted to stand as the Conservative candidate in the traditionally safe Tory seat of Brentwood and Ongar[15] against the independent Member of Parliament, Martin Bell. His proposed slogan was "Don't be a plank, vote for Frank!" However, this idea was quickly dismissed by Conservative Central Office.[16] But in an interview with BBC Sport at the time Bruno laughed at the story and denied he had any intention of standing.[citation needed]

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?".

On 15 August 2009 he appeared on The Weakest Link beating Duke McKenzie in the final for £12,800. He had a small role in the 2008 British crime drama Cass. Bruno made brief guest appearances in episodes of the ITV comedy show, Harry Hill's TV Burp in February and October 2011. On 21 April 2011, Bruno appeared on the ITV1 chatshow The Alan Titchmarsh Show, where he was candid about his previous health issues. In 2011, he made a guest appearance in Sooty. On 20 April 2012, Bruno was featured in the ITV series Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

He supports West Ham whilst also having an affinity for Aberdeen.

Bruno completed the 2011 London Marathon which is the third marathon he has run successfully. He has also run numerous half marathons. He is also a patron for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust, a children's charity. Bruno regularly makes personal appearances and also sells autographed items of memorabilia.[17]

On 23 July 2013, Bruno was featured in the BBC Three documentary with his daughter Rachel in Rachel Bruno: My Dad and Me.[18][19]


  1. ^ Eskenazi, Gerlad (10 August 1993). "Bruno vs. Lewis: A Personal Battle of Britain". nytimes.com. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mike Tyson v Frank Bruno 2 1996". Tysontalk.com. 1 September 2004. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Friedman, Jack; Sanderson, Laura (20 February 1989). "British Champ Frank Bruno Steels Himself for Iron Mike". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  4. ^ Rachel Bruno: My Dad & Me, 23 July 2013
  5. ^ "Bruno to divorce BBC 8 August 2001". BBC News. 8 August 2001. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Goodwill messages for Bruno BBC 24 September 2003". BBC News. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Did you feel suicidal before you were sectioned?". guardian.co.uk. 24 October 2005. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ex-boxer Bruno admits cocaine use BBC 9 October 2005". BBC News. 9 October 2005. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Owen Gibson (23 September 2003). "Sun on the ropes over 'Bonkers Bruno' story Media MediaGuardian". Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Bruno offers support to Gascoigne BBC 24 February 2008". BBC News. 24 February 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Staines, Richard (20 June 2009). "Frank Bruno to discuss BME mental health services News". Nursing Times. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Owens, Nick (1 December 2013). "Frank Bruno is back and is fighting fit but this time it's not boxers he's battling – Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Bruno gets £50,000 libel damages BBC 10 October 2006". BBC News. 10 October 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Sue Mott (1 April 2006). "Bruno boxing clever". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Bruno considers election fight BBC 12 January 2001". BBC News. 12 January 2001. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Blow for Bruno's election plan BBC 12 January 2001". BBC News. 12 January 2001. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Sporting Dinner with Frank Bruno MBE Archived 20 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "BBC Three – Rachel Bruno: My Dad & Me". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  19. ^ 9.00–10.00pm (1 January 1970). "Media Centre – Programme Information – Rachel Bruno: My Dad And Me". BBC. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 

External links

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Andy Palmer
ABA heavyweight champion
Adrian Elliott
Regional boxing titles
Preceded by
Anders Eklund
European heavyweight champion
1 October 1985 – July 1986
Title next held by
Steffen Tangstad
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Oliver McCall
WBC heavyweight champion
2 September 199516 March 1996
Succeeded by
Mike Tyson