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Memories and laughs as Frank Bruno speaks candidly about life and career

There was the deep chuckle and the glint in the eye at memories of a life at the top of the boxing world as Frank Bruno came to town.

Frank Bruno and Steve Saul from Route 39 organised for a signed glove to be donated to the Smile For Joel charity. Frank is seen signing the glove with Suzy Evans and her son Owen Richards, along with Steve Saul and Karen Turner from the charity
Frank Bruno and Steve Saul from Route 39 organised for a signed glove to be donated to the Smile For Joel charity. Frank is seen signing the glove with Suzy Evans and her son Owen Richards, along with Steve Saul and Karen Turner from the charity

The former WBC World Heavyweight Champion was in good form as he played to the 200 people in attendance at the Copthorne Hotel in Brierley Hill on Thursday, December 2.

Entering the room to "Eye of the Tiger", Bruno was in his element, waving to those in attendance and lapping up the chants of "Bruno, Bruno".

The 60-year-old spoke candidly about his early upbringing, including being expelled from school for punching a teacher and how his mother wanted him to be a preacher, not a boxer.

He said: "I knew she didn't want me to become a boxer, so when my manager Terry Lawless wanted me to turn professional, she was all against it.

"She stood waiting at the window, but when she saw what car he was driving, she quickly changed her mind, particularly when she heard from him how much I could make boxing."

He also reflected on his three World Championship bouts that he lost before beating Oliver McCall in 1995, with host Jed Stone asking him what he felt after hurting Mike Tyson in their fight in Las Vegas in 1989.

Frank Bruno said: "I sat down on the stool and the only thing I could think of was 'Oh s***, I've annoyed him now!', but he was such a great fighter and no shame losing to him.

"Beating Oliver McCall was the culmination of a dream and showed that if you are prepared to work and prepared to push yourself, you can achieve anything."

He also reflected on his own battles with mental health, having being diagnosed as bipolar after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2003.

He said: "It was a horrible time and I remember police and ambulances and helicopters being outside my house and everyone clocking me as I left the house, I felt so embarrassed.

Jas Sansi said it was an honour to meet Frank Bruno

"I was locked up for six weeks and it was one of the hardest times of my life, but it helped me to form my own thoughts about dealing with mental health.

"Women can cry and get things off their back, men find it too hard to cry in front of friends, but there's no shame attached to it and there's someone out there to help you."

The event "An evening with Frank Bruno" also saw a mixture of corporate guest, invited members of charities and other groups enjoy a three-course meal and a silent auction as part of proceedings.

It has been organised by Route 39, an entertainment company putting on a mixture of events to raise funds for charity, with owner Steve Saul saying he was delighted to be able to welcome a boxing legend to the Black Country.

He said: "When we put on these events, we look for high profile guests and they don't come much bigger than Frank Bruno.

"I've worked with Frank before on about four or five occasions and he's always been absolutely brilliant and we're looking forward to seeing him here."

One of the charities benefitting from the evening was Smile for Joel, the charity set up in the wake of the Tunisia massacre in 2015 by Suzy Evans, who was in attendance with her son Owen Richards.

She was presented by Steve Saul with a boxing glove signed by Frank Bruno and said what a lovely thing it had been to meet him again after the Pride of Britain awards.

She said: "It's lovely to meet Frank as he is such a gentleman and it was lovely to chat to him about the charity and tell him what it was about.

"Owen also gave him one of the wristbands, which he was happy to wear, and we had a photo taken, which is great as we want to get as many photos with celebrities wearing those as we can."

Suzy said she would look to auction off the glove at an event in the future, while Owen said he wished his brother Joel could have been there to meet Frank Bruno.

An audience of around 200 people were in attendance to see Frank Bruno and enjoy a three-course meal

He said: "It's fantastic for me to do this, but we always remember the charity is in Joel's name and I know that he, dad and grandad would have got such a kick out of this.

"They'd have loved to be here and I know my grandad was a huge fan of his, so I know how much it would have meant to them and I'm proud to have done it for them."

Other people attending the event were Jas Sansi from Birmingham, who volunteered with St Basil's hospice and said it was an honour to meet a legend.

He said: "Frank Bruno is a legend and I think people my age have grown up with him being part of our life story.

"Even if you're not a boxing fan, if you're any type of sports fan, Frank Bruno is one of those people who made it and sort of transcended his sport."

The event was sponsored by Gemport Jewellery, with director David Turner saying the event was a valuable networking opportunity, but also allowed him to meet a star like Frank Bruno.

He said: "It always helps to meet a star of that stature as he is a legend of the 1980s and 1990s and still has full exposure in the press nowadays.

"He is still a well-known and recognised face in the boxing and sporting fraternity and it was great to be able to meet him."

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