Growing up with five brothers and sisters in a terraced London house, He starting boxing at 9 at the local Wandsworth Boys Club. Frank learnt to box more seriously while at Oak Hall School in Sussex, an establishment for ‘problem’ children.
During his amateur career, he amassed a 20-1 career, losing 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. Frank became a professional boxer in 1980, after twenty-one consecutive wins by knockout. As Great Britain had been starved of World champions in the Heavy weight division for the 20th century there became whispers of suggestions of this big lad from South London getting to the heights of a World championship. But there was to be a wait for a few years! In March 1984, at Wembley future world Heavyweight champion, American James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith, then a boxing journeyman, stopped Franks Promised Land in its tracks when he defeated Frank by knockout in the tenth and final round of their bout, with Frank leading on all three judges’ cards. This would not be the last time Frank went on to loose a contest he had been clearly winning and would have emerged victorious had he survived until the final bell.
Frank got back into title contention with wins over the likes of former WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee 4/3/86 at Wembley (by knockout in round one), and, in July 1986, he challenged Tim Witherspoon for the WBA World Heavyweight Championship. After once again leading on the cards for most of the fight, he was defeated by knockout, in round eleven. The contrast between Frank and Witherspoon who appeared to be carrying a few too many pounds was all too clear too see even for a non boxing fan, but the media commented the difference was that Witherspoon worked when he had to, and did enough over the course of the fight, whereas Frank maybe appeared to be laid back when he could and maybe should have had the opportunity to go for the knockout. Frank says on the night Witherspoon was a better boxer and Franks head got in the way of Witherspoon’s fists!
In 1989, Frank challenged Mike Tyson for the unified world Heavyweight title. After being shaken in the opening seconds, Frank finished the first round by rocking Tyson with a left hook. However, Tyson recovered the referee stopped the contest in round five with the British boxer taking heavy punishment on the ropes. It would be fair to say the whole of the UK was willing Frank on, something Frank acknowledged after the fight. “Las Vegas was like Mini England”
Frank kept winning fights, helping him to retain his spot as one of the world’s leading Heavyweights. In 1993 he had a third world title chance against a young Lennox Lewis, who was making the second defense of the belt (his first of three championship reigns). Lewis beat Bruno on a stoppage in round seven, The media felt Frank needed that little extra failing to take his title chance after leading the contest on points up until what proved the final round.
On 24 September 1994, Oliver McCall beat Lennox Lewis with a shock second round knockout victory at Wembley Arena, and, after outpointing Larry Holmes, he came to England to defend the WBC title against Frank. On 2 September 1995, Bruno finally became World champion by outpointing McCall over twelve rounds. The whole of the UK hailed Frank as King Brooooono. A tour through London with the winning Belt on an Open top bus brought out 100’s of thousands to cheer and wave at Frank.
Franks’s reign did not last as long as champion as the country wanted with his first defense was a rematch with Tyson. Tyson beat Frank on a stoppage in round three, in what turned out to be Bruno’s last bout as a professional.
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. Frank starting working with Dave Davies and PR Sports Entertainers Ltd on a gradual basis having known David through the Presidents Sporting club the business relationship has become stronger over 6 years now David deals with bookings, media, memorabilia etc etc.
Outside The ring
Franklyn Roy Bruno was born at Hammersmith Hospital in London. He was the youngest of 6 children from the union of his parents Lynette & Robert Bruno. Michael, Eddie, Faye Joanne, and Angela are his siblings.
His parents settled down in Wandsworth in London. His father Robert who was from Dominica passed away in 1975, while his mother Lynette was a district nurse and a Pentecostal lay preacher from Jamaica.
Frank attended schools at Swaffield Primary and Oak Hill schools in Sussex where he excelled in football and athletics.
In 1990, he married his partner Laura at in Hornchurch, Essex. They had three children. Rachel, Nicola, & Franklyn. They divorced in 2001.
Frank has remained a popular figure with the British public and crossed over from the sports fans to the man in the street and certainly the women some who want to love him others who want to mother him! His image was enhanced by his relationship with the BBC boxing commentator Harry Carpenter where the “know wot I mean Arry” phrase joined the English language, his appearances on the early Comic Relief programmes in the 1980s and his frequent appearances thereafter on television and on stage. Frank was awarded an MBE in 1990, and is a member of Equity. He’s an accomplished actor performing alongside Michael Barrymore (with record box office sales), he played Robin Hood in Bristol & Bradford, alongside British comedians Little & Large, as well as Ringmaster in ‘Goldilocks & the 3 Bears’ in Birmingham.
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 #28 in the UK charts.
In January 2001, Frank announced that he wanted to stand as the Conservative candidate in the traditionally safe Tory seat of Brentwood and Ongar Essex 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.
In 2002/2003 Frank tried his hand at Dee Jaying, he toured the countries night clubs showing his love of dance and soul music.
On 22 September 2003, Frank was taken from his home 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. He had been suffering from depression for several months beforehand. He was later diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. The psychologist Professor Cary Cooper expressed the opinion that the end of Bruno’s boxing career, the breakdown of his marriage, and the suicide of his former trainer George Francis in 2002 all contributed to his condition. Frank has recovered and is well again. His celebrity status is used by many Mental health charities and his name is used as an example to draw attention to the unknown factors of Mental illness. On 24 February 2008 Frank Bruno offered his support to former footballer Paul Gascoigne, who on 21 February had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
In December 2005, Bruno announced that he was to become a father for the fourth time baby Freya was born on 10th May 2006.
Frank now lives on his own in a village of on the outskirts of the town of Leighton Buzzard. He spends a lot of time at the local health club when he is not working. He currently works speaking at dinners, & personal appearances. He has various charity affiliations including the Presidents Sporting club. His son Franklyn plays rugby and Frank is often seen on the touchlines cheering on the Brentwood boy’s team. Frank describes the game as rough!
Franks favorite car is his Bentley
Franks favorite food is Rice and peas although he loves Steak and Lamb
His favorite song of all time is Mind Blowing Decisions by Heatwave
Franks favorite artist is Michael Jackson
Of all the countries he has visited he likes Jamaica and Dominica best of all
Bruno’s publicist throughout most of his career was sports historian Norman Giller, who wrote three books in association with Frank: Know What I mean, IEye of the Tiger and From Zero to Hero. In 2005 Frank wrote a book talking of his problems called Fighting Back. Trevor Macdonald did an hour special with Frank watched by millions on ITV.