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There's no doubt Frank Bruno is our Rocky Balboa, the loveable lug that united all races and fight fans by never giving up, in and out of the ring, his granite head that was pounded by the greats, sharp enough to instruct a bigger physical punch line to come back at the other fellow if they rattled the giant from South London too much. Most people loved him but one or two found his weakness and trash talked him in the lead up to big fights as an Uncle Tom figure for sucking up to the white media and marrying a Caucasian girl, whereas Frank was simply Frank and understood the game and played the hype like the best of them, 'to earn some serious corn', as he put it, one of many catchphrases big Frank would chuckle to Harry Carpenter in that wonderful deep voice that could boom as hard as his punches. These warriors put their life on the line to entertain stadia full of white working-class men and Frank earned their respect, the Suns 'Bonkers Bruno' headline cruel as it was unfair. The big fight is 100% showbiz, making you believe the narrative, why the farcical Haye-Chisora mismatch has sold out. Like American wrestlers, boxers create a character and become it.
The heart of this painfully honest autobiography is Franks decent into depression and near madness, the opening chapter quite harrowing, Frank too in love with boxing to blame the sport for his current bipolar. His later life woes is another symptom of being punch drunk and clearly being retired caused the depression in the end. This book is not only a cuddle by Frank for his fans but a verbal reply to his critics over the years with some big right handers of his own about his life and an explanation to his fans and skeptics alike for his post fight depression. He needs that love of the people to keep getting up every morning, going to sleep at night with a smile to the reassuring echoes of 'Bruooooooooooooo' in the escape of the dreams to come.
The early days for Bruno in South London were - and still are for some - the young black boy cliché, a choice between a life of crime or a life of sport and music, a boisterous little Bruno soon getting in trouble as a nipper and finally ending up in a school for teenage delinquents in the rural Sussex countryside, an absent black father and God-fearing Caribbean mother unable to keep him on the straight and narrow. He wasn't a knife pulling type or a thief but just a big guy for his age that felt the need to use his fist with his piers to earn his status and place in life. But boxing was getting a hold to channel that discipline by his 16th birthday and was a very promising amateur after just two fights. He had already had his eliminators on London's tough streets.
After earning a cheeky fiver for sparing with a visiting champion in the East London gym of Terry Lawless the potential was obvious to those who knew, and so Frank began to train with the man who would eventually take him to that promised world title fight.
His first pro fights were over very quickly, only one guy managing to make the seventh round in Frank's first twenty fights, which included eight first round dismissals. Franks career record still remains very impressive with 40 wins in his 45 professional fights with 38 K/Os, finally beating Oliver McCall to become world champion in 1996, the sport finding away for Bruno to achieve his dream. Those five defeats were twice to Mike Tyson and once to world champions Lennox Lewis and Tim Witherspoon and the humbling by James 'Bone Crusher' Smith, only top North American fighters beating our Frank. Rather ironically Frank would never fight for the British heavyweight title after beating up all the best Brits for thirteen years, an honorary belt surely a fitting reward for a great entertainer ad seriously good fighter. If only he was as Nigel Benn he would have been unbeatable.
There is no doubt those around Frank in the early days milked him for a few quid with Bruno having to fight nobodies to capitalize his promoters and trainers other fighters, later promoters like Frank Warren and Barry Hearn also going through his pockets for lose change. That gullibility really comes across in the book even though Frank doesn't see it. If he reads his book back he will see it. I remember at the time just how bad some of the bums were he was knocking out right up until he faced Witherspoon, perhaps fighting too many losers for far too long and so why he never won that fight.
Franks career stalled a couple of times through eye injuries, one very serious and having to be dispatched on his own to Columbia for experimental surgery to fix it, proving the book most amusing anecdote when Frank gets mixed up with some international drug dealers. He also admits to marijuana use here through out his life, also linked to depression but drug use surprisingly not picked up on by his many mandatory drug tests, the way Agassi wasn't with his now confessed crystal meth use. But you have to ask why trainer Terry Lawless let him fight with the second damaged retina injury if they claim they had his welfare at heart. If you look at Frank's last fight on YouTube you can see his eye fluttering and blinking rapidly, the eyeball in a mess at that point. How did the boxing doctors miss that?
He talks about his family a lot in the book and also his need to be loved, presumably by black and white folks alike. There's no doubt that Uncle Tom comment really hurt him but its also fair to say some black sportsman and celebrities have their hang ups about race and most date or marry white trophy girls, they say because black girls are 'hard work' whereas some would say it helps black sporting stars and the like to feel accepted in the celebrity class they end up in. I do feel this contradiction was part of Bruno's turmoil...trying to please both parties. You are sixteen times more likely to end up in a metal health facility if you are black in Britain, such is the everyday unsettling conflict they face from being born black in what is essentially still a racist society, be it that bigotry more subtle these days.
He became his pantomime character by the end of his boxing career and if he could rub his lamp he would go back to the gym as an 18-year-old and do it all again, regardless of his later struggle. Like Paul Gascoigne you fear the worse for Frank as you did Amy Winehouse as they can't be that person they were ever again and get that critical buzz. Frank was recently in Northampton for a stay at St Andrews hospital and you would be surprised just how many famous people are, and have been, in that mental hospital. He is clearly a troubled middle-aged man and we can only hope he can let go of the past and so recover. As with Gaza, writing books about his experiences has helped to get things out and enjoyable insights into their lives. After reading this you feel you can go up to the big guy ad give him a hug as you have shared his pain, such is his candor. He also writes of Frank of old as he feels most secure as that character.
Like the most loved and respected British immigrants he has accepted he has to be humble to win over the majority unsophisticated white population. Monty Panesar did it brilliantly and so did Lenny Henry. The banter in the pubs and workplace is our culture and that means people get stereotyped. Frank tapped into that quickly and won the nations heart. We want positive likeable black role models to admire and respect so to kill the negative stereotypes. If Frank was an Uncle Tom he is a very rich one.
I will leave the last words to Amy Winehouse as they seem how feel right for Frank...
'They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my mummy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go...'
As a child of the late 1980's (I was born on Christmas eve '87) who had gotten into boxing through the names that were around in the 1990's Bruno's was one of the most recognisable. You had the Tyson mega show where for a few years in the late 1980's he was the man that was seen as Mr Boxing. The Tyson name had filled into the void left by Sugar Ray Leonard (who in turn had filled in for Ali) as the sports beacon on controversy and chaos. In Britain we had "Prince" Naseem Hamed and Frank Bruno as our two of our biggest names of the time, Hamed's flamboyance and general cockiness had brought him to being a well known. Whilst on the other end of it Frank Bruno was well known for being boxing's Mr Nice, a jovial sort of man, that didn't seem the brightest crayon in the jar but seemed very personable and a decent fellow.
Of in the mid 1990's we also had our own Fab 4 (Collins-Watson-Benn-Eubank) whilst American Olympic stars like Roy Jones Jr and Evander Holyfield we're taking the sport by storm over in the states.
Your now asking why you're being given a history lesson for a book aren't you?
Well my first boxing memory is a discussion at primary school in the mid 1990's, it was a couple of days before the Tyson-Bruno rematch. Bruno was to make the first defence of his WBC Heavyweight crown that he'd taken from Oliver McCall around 6 months earlier. On one side of the discussion there was a kid who's dad was really into boxing, giving us the whole "Bruno's a bum, he's got no chin, no stamina and looks like a body builder" on the other wise their was the English kid through and through. He was adamant that not only was Bruno going to win, but he was going to be the second man to stop Tyson, and swiftly too.
As it turns out it was Franks last fight in the right in 1996, an eye injury had almost cost him this fight, and there was no way he was going to get another one. Time to call it a day in the ring which he did and went into Panto (which he's almost as well know for as his boxing), though he was never the brightest he was one of the nicest guys in the boxing fraternity. To his credit he never seemed like a crazy man out of the ring, his family appeared to come first. There was no Johnny Tapia style self destruction, there was no known drug problem or drink problem like their had been with many of the 1980's heavyweights. Frank seemed like a normal person, who could punch hard and take a decent shot.
So it was with great sadness that boxing fans learned of his biggest fight, not one of those fought against the likes of Lennox Lewis or Tyson, but the demons in his own head, triggered by a combination of causes Frank was a damaged man. The Sun newspaper running with the rather disgusting "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up" headline as Frank was on the ropes, mental health problems had caused him to be detained under the mental health act in 2003. Caused likely by a combination of boxing (and missing boxing, many former pros have said they don't know what to do when their in ring career has gone), a cocaine problem that had been hidden well from the media and the suicide of trainer and long term friend George Francis in 2002.
Francis had taken his own life after the deaths of his son and wife, his life in boxing having been all but over, he too was lost and took the greatest price one can pay.
Again your asking what has all this got to do with the book?
Well the book was released soon after Bruno had started to take the fight back to the Bi-Polar (otherwise known as Manic Depression) that he was suffering from. The opening two chapters are about being taken away to Goodmayes Psychiatric Hospital and the 28 days he spent detained there, as thoughts of him losing control to a darker extent got stronger. The starting of the book here lays down a strong and heart wrenching foundation to the tale of Frank's life which is told with an honest and open emotional grounding.
Despite the starts of it the book doesn't just stay with the mental health aspects of Frank's life. It swiftly explores much of his early life growing up in London and the death of his father as well as his time in a correction centre for youths where he tuned his boxing to such an extent that by age 18 he was the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) champion. The ABA is the amateur version of the British title, he was the best British heavyweight amateur and on the verge of turning professional when an eye problem almost thwarted his career before it's gotten of to any sort of a start, the surgery for the eye was under taken in Colombia and the rest as they say is history.
Unlike many sporting autobiographies where the writer tries to make themselves sound super human. Frank maintains an honest approach throughout that gives the book a near unrivalled heart, that many others wish they could have. Having read "Pocket Rocket" by Wayne McCullough a few months prior to reading this, I was worried this would go the same way as that. That featured a very simple language that appeared to be the level of a 9 year old and had Wayne either claiming his losses shouldn't have been loses, he had some under lying problem or excuses as well repeatedly calling everyone his mate an being such a nice guy. Not offence to Wayne here, but nice guys don't need to point out their a nice guy. Frank's charm and charisma shows this through out, he doesn't try to excuse every time he was beat, or any thing else.
The book goes through his boxing career, with varying amounts of time spent on each fight depending on their importance to his career. The 2 fights with Tyson for example both have their own chapters whilst fights against folk like Stuart Lithgow are, like many of the earlier fights, thrown in to one or two chapters together. The book mentions the loss to James "Bonecrusher" Smith and Franks fights back to the top after each of his losses, in a startlingly honest way that Kevin Mitchell (the co-author) has strung together in word based combinations.
The book is fascinating whether your a boxing fan or just a fan of human story's, as far as modern British boxing goes, Bruno's had one of the strangest. Potential drug smuggling in South America, a mental break down, and sparring with Tyson in the Catskills. He goes on, in depth about Mike and how he feels their similar in many ways, also most calling him a brother, not of the noble art, but as social people with similar problems and similar feelings towards the world. Of course they were both young when they got into the sport, but had long KO runs and power, their fathers weren't in their life for much of it and they both spent time in centres for delinquents bur Franks goes further in trying to make his adversary seem human and giving Tyson credit where others have been unwilling.
The book at (depending on the version) around 270 pages long is a good, enjoyable read, with a useful career record section at the back that more boxing books should have (most namely the brilliant "Unforgivable Blackness" by Geoffrey C Ward) which lists the fights, locations and results. The books is touching throughout and heart warming, it has Franks familiar charm to it and looks into mental health and how it strikes some of the strongest of us. Franks long term role as "the laughing fool" has been exposed as a slightly over egged idea as he is full of knowledge most of us don't have and his own ideas. Admittedly his boxing brain wasn't the cleverest the criticisms labelled at his chin seem rather unfair as if he'd had a soft chin he'd have been knocked down more than he was.
Having recently appeared on The Weakest Link it's fair to say he's now back to his brilliant, loveable self that he was when he partnered up with Harry Carpenter in post fight interviews. The chemistry with both Carpenter and Anne Robinson show that Frank isn't one of those fighters so full of themselves that they believe their gods gift, this has shown through again in book. A brilliantly easy to read and completely honest book on a fighter that's still fighting one of the hardest fights.
Although the price (RRP £18.99) is steep, the book can be found regularly in charity shops for a few quid (the one I have was £3.00) with is much better value for money. Frank: Fighting Back by Frank Bruno and Kevin Mitchell shows the blue print for all biographical books. Hopefully more will follow it.
~ Bruno - larger than life and fighting back. ~
Frank Bruno - what can I say?! For those of you old enough to remember this character and appreciate him as one of Britain's national treasures, this book is a must read.
I have never really been a great boxing fan but there was something about Bruno that drew me towards the sport. Was it his fabulous laugh and one-liners, his rapport with Harry or the family guy who had a stage presence bigger than life itself? Who knows maybe it's a combination of all the above.
I was fortunate enough to be in the audience with many boxing fans at the BIC (Bournemouth) on the 11th July 2008. Why? A great present I found by accident for my partner (who use to box when younger and loves the sport) - A Sporting Speakers Evening with Ricky Hitman Hatton and Frank Bruno. So why am I talking about this and not the book? I am getting to the book but this is an important intro. During this fabulous evening and listening to Bruno' honest and (excuse the pun) frank conversation with the audience, we were all left in no doubt that this man has faced just as many demons outside the ring as in.
His book was on sell during the interval and after listening to him I wanted to read more. This biography has been as hard hitting as the punches he threw and heart breaking as his final defeat in 1996, Las Vegas.
Yellow Jersey Press
20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd
www.randomhouse.co.uk/frank - This link will take you to a page that has 3 sections. A video clip of Frank telling you about his book. A link to an interview with Emma Brockes of the Guardian (4.10.05) This is a very well written interview that deserves much accolade. The 3rd section is a link to 'Read an Extract' that I can't open. But have the book so not really to worried.
£18.99 - (Although this book is obtainable at Amazon for less)
The book is simple called FRANK - Fighting Back.
The front cover sports a full face and shoulder, coloured photo of Frank looking calm and relaxed (and giving the impression he is naked - does this beg the question will he lay bare all in this story of his?).
The back cover shows him in a head to hips shot dressed in a dark suit and white shirt. His hands together and he is looking down at his up pointed thumbs. (On stage he worn a white shirt and cream chinos - what an awesome sight and stark contrast to this picture)
On the inside front of the jacket cover is a brief paragraphed time-line of Frank's life.
Inside back cover is a photo of him sat holding his gloves in the changing rooms of a gym with a picture of him in his glory days.
Below this picture is a quote from the fighter that sums up his feelings on his breakdown.
~ Quote from the big guy. ~
"My trainer said my hardest fight would be when I quit. He was right. I'd been a fighter all my life and survived a sport that leaves strong men weak. And here I was, alone and helpless in a hospital for mentally ill people. It wasn't a left hook or a right cross that put me out. It was a different combination. My brain had given up on me. I survived, but I was now a different man."
After reading this I realised that my question earlier of 'will he lay bare all ...' would be answered over the 200 pages that lay within this hardback of memories.
Oh did I mention that he has signed my copy!!! (Hence the reason I paid £20, a signed copy was definitely worth the extra)
Frank has dedicated this book to Laura (his ex wife) his kids and to George (his dear friend and trainer)
There are 17 chapters in all. Following the introduction, the book finishes with his acknowledgements and career record.
Frank gives us a 2 page introduction about himself and what happened on a Monday morning in September 2003 that leads him to write this book.
CHAPTER 1 - The Worst Day of My Life
This beginning tells us about the events of the day that Frank was sectioned, (22nd Sept.2003) He was at his home, Stoney Massey, in Essex and was due to be going to the children's hospital in Great Ormond St to talk to the children. He was with his eldest daughter Nicola. However, Frank is very honest about his state of mind and tells us that his problems had been building up for years (since 1996, after losing his title to Tyson).
In 1998 he was told he had a bipolar affective disorder. His marriage -break up and loss of a best friend only helped to wreck his mind and sink him into further depression. Frank tells us about the pressures of a being a boxer and how most of their careers are spent deceiving themselves and others. He also gives a good insight to the pressures of 'living in a goldfish bowl'- 24 hrs a day.
My own thoughts - agree or disagree we all have one thing in common,
we all have an opinion on celebrities.
We often say that celebrities know, and should accept, the bad that comes with the fame and glory. What we often forget is that celebrities, are simple humans like us, and don't have the privilege of being able to 'off load' or have a 'wobbly' with friends without the worry of being sold out to the tabloids. They end up having a full public press release of their break downs or committals to rehabs / mental hospitals. Its funny how there only seems to be family members present at these breaking points. So where now are these hanger-on friends that are seen in the glory days?
Frank goes on to tell us exactly how upsetting the whole breakdown process was with the arrival of the police and doctors from Goodmayes Hospital. He admits that much of the day is fuzzy and confusing but tries to be as honest as he can. He remembers being physically restrained and put into an ambulance. Laura and his friend are with him as he is driven away from the house. Oh and surprise, surprise the press are waiting with cameras at the ready. We are taken through the emotional journey of Frank's arrival and reactions to the hospital and his room, which will be his home for the next 28 days (although this statutory time was actually extended).
CHAPTER 2 - Twenty-Eight Days
This chapter leads us through the corridors of the hospital and Frank's confused mind. He says 'this was going to be my first day in a world of damaged people. I can't tell you how frightening that is, to come face to face with so much human sadness. And be told that you are part of it, that you, too, are ill.' He goes on to say 'I don't mean to be disrespectful...' and through the honesty and openness with which he discusses his feelings at this time you can see the attributes that made him the great sportsman he once was.
He had 2 visitors, apart from his loyal family, which helped him to be strong. His first manager, Terry Lawless, and Mickey Duff, his first promoter. He was happy to see both these men, although admits -
Quote - 'they had their differences, but that was business. They showed me they cared, and that counts for a lot'
Frank's sister was the person who broke the new about a certain paper's headlines read; BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP.
Bruno remembers a visit he made with Jimmy Savile to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and a meeting with Peter Sutcliffe and Ronnie Kray. This chilling memory helps him to see that Goodmayes is completely different and so is he. This realisation gives him the determination to start fighting his illness and get on the path to recover. This chapter finishes with Frank returning home on the 21st November with his daughter Nicola.
Ok the tear jerking bit, on his arrival at the empty house, Frank is faced with several big boxes. Thousands of cards and letters from his fans wishing him well. He is reminded of the fans smiling and cheering him on at Wembley Stadium and his friend George Francis, standing with him in his corner.
CHAPTER 3 - Country Days
Frank takes us back to 1972, in this chapter and tells us of his high- spirited school days. In particular one teacher who he clashed with, literally. His bed-ridden father rules him with an iron rod and although Frank seems to take this in his stride doesn't seem to be able to stay out of trouble. This leads him to a spell in a special school.
During this return to the early days we discover how Frank got into boxing and his first club fights. He gives us a good look at his family history & members and his days at Oak Hall Boarding School. His highs and lows as a teenager reflected his strong personality and determination
CHAPTER 4 - Almost a Man
With the death of his father opening this chapter in Frank's life, we are again exposed to how his early years influenced his later life. Life after Oak Hill seems worlds apart but the discipline and respect stayed.
(Some years ago I was working with a Samaritan - She told me that what happens to a boy at the age of 15yrs will effect him for the rest of his life - over the years I have always remembered this and seen how often it is true - reading Frank's thoughts in this chapter reminded me of this)
As the section of the book unfolds we learn of Frank's participation in a well - established amateur boxing club and the opportunities (and hardships) that he experienced.
The transition from amateur to professional boxing didn't come without its own problems for Frank. However, with Terry Lawless as his new manager and Mickey Duff promoter we learn that 'The Big Smile and the Big Punch' is on the up.
CHAPTER 5 - Stoned in Colombia
Pro at 19 and going for gold...
However, devastating news from the doctor almost puts a stop to Frank's story.
This chapter contains a collection of 6 pages of photographs. These pictures range from black & white snaps of Frank as a toddler, his family and school friends to colour action shots of him in the ring and then with Laura on their wedding day.
This last photo is a stark contrast to parts of the text that tell of his lone adventure in Colombia with high-powered and extremely dangerous cocaine dealers.
CHAPTER 6 - Laura
The title of this chapter is self - explanatory. However, there is much of his boxing development and not as much about Laura as suggested by the title. Laura has always been Frank's rock and he writes with much feeling of this during this section of his story. His early days with Laura and their first daughter Nicola, were simple and uncomplicated. As their relationship developed and they began to move on Frank became aware of 'Sniping behinds our backs' as he puts it.
We are also introduced to Cass Pennant.
Cass Pennant is famous in his own rights. He has written and had published several books based on his experiences as a West Ham hard man. His film CASS was released on the 1st August 2008.
CHAPTER 7 - They Won't all be that Easy
The Albert Hall hears the sounds of 'BROO-NO' echoing for the first time as fans celebrate Frank's victory over Lupe Guerra. Bruno reflects back on his first fight as a pro and gives us some personal thoughts on the contrasting aspects of amateur boxing to that of the professional business. We then find out about his next few fights at Wembley Arena and then back at Albert Hall. It was interesting to read how disheartened Frank felt after the Stevenson bout. Was it the booing he heard for the first time or the fact he knew his opponent wasn't as challenging as he should be, hence a feeling of disappointment from the fans. What ever the reason the training became more intense and larger / tougher opponents are in the offing.
I was surprised (and maybe a bit disappointed) to read that Frank still liked the odd puff of Marijuana. I don't know why I felt like this when reading this information, because I am a great believer in 'each to their own'.
CHAPTER 8 - Growing up the Harry
Frank and Harry the funniest double - act in sports (in my opinion, feel free to tell me yours).
Bruno starts off by telling us about his fight with Jumbo Cummings and the first time he is literally knocked for six by this giant. Although he did recover and go on to win this fight - the chapter does finish with the disastrous double British defeat at Wembley Arena. Reading the defeat of Mark Kaylor (Bruno's gym-mate) and then Bruno's defeat against Bonecrusher Smith in one evening, leaves the reader in no doubt that the comradeship of the whole boxing team is solid.
Again as with the previous chapter I had expected to read more about Harry and Bruno's relationship, although he is referred to often the chapter is not primarily based on the commentator.
CHAPTER 9 - Redemption, Bruises and Lawyers
Frank reveals to us that it is after this crushing defeat that he was down mentally. He also shows us more about the love, support and loyalty his family have for him. Maybe it was knowing this, and the 28 day ban on entering a gym after a stoppage defeat, that Bruno stepped up the fitness training and determination to get back on top. During this chapter I have learnt a bit about the politics of boxing.
CHAPTER 10 - Terrible Tim, Terrible Night
After defeating Gerrie Coetzee we read that Tim Witherspoon is next on the menu for our big battler. The title of the chapter says it all - so I am not going into detail. My own impression of this chapter is that Frank's memories are clearly written with an insight to the real Bruno.
Chapter 11- Tyson
This chapter, unlike the last two, focuses its attention on Mike Tyson. Bruno recalls the never-ending battle that precedes the famous fight that eventually took place between these two giants. What goes on in the ring is a good reflection of the personal and business battles that Tyson was undergoing in the glare of the public eye. It was interesting to see Bruno's reaction to the public humiliation experienced by is opponent from his wife, Robin. We also see the frustration that is caused to Bruno through the constant postponement of the challenge. So far this chapter has been the most informative insight into Frank's feelings of some-ones life crisis. Maybe, and this is just my opinion, as Bruno had reflected he has noticed how similar Tyson's state of mind and life to his own. The main difference being that his wife was supportive and loyal.
The writing style of this chapter and depth in which Bruno describes Tyson reflects the respect he holds towards Mike not just as a person but as a boxer.
CHAPTER 12 - Leaving Las Vegas
As with chapter 11 I am not going into detail - most people will know who won this brutal bout in 5 rounds. Bruno hurt Tyson but not enough. What he did achieve was a hell of a lot of respect.
This chapter does end with a brief note informing us about Frank and Laura marriage.
CHAPTER 13 - Lennox and Me
After the fall out from the Tyson battle, Bruno's medical reveals an old problem has come back to haunt him.
Bruno's life outside the ring takes him into show business work with many big names. I was left with the impression Bruno really enjoyed his experiences and certainly made some great friends. However, the press took a negative view to this life.
A new home (Stondon Massey - where our story started) and a new promoter see us looking at Bruno returning to his boxing passion.
The build up fights that bring the Lewis v Bruno challenge to come about are described briefing. It's as if Frank is showing us how desperate he was to get Lennox into the ring. We also see a furious Bruno and he zero tolerance of racism in this chapter.
This section of the book holds the second collection of photographs. These are clear, colour pictures of Bruno training, fighting and being with his family. The saddest being 'The final seconds of my career' - Tyson v Bruno 2nd Challenge.
Anyway, back to the main title of this chapter Lennox. Bruno fought well but as the history books show was left battered both physically and mentally.
CHAPTER 14 - I Thank God I Won
This chapter starts with such impact that it grabs you quickly, giving you a sudden uplifting sense of Yes he's back.
Bruno's win gives him back the self-respect he felt he lost to Lewis. It also gets him a shot at a world title.
CHAPTER 15 - Tyson II
So he is our champ - the heavyweight champion of the world. This was September and what fame and relaxation did he have before him.
What I hadn't realised until reading this chapter was this title winning fight had cost Bruno dear. His eye was not at all good. The operations in the past had worked until now, but the damaged from McCall punch had left its mark. And the Tyson re-match was set for the coming March.
I remember the hype preceding this fight. The papers ripping into Tyson for his crime against Desiree and the enjoyment they took in detailing every aspect of his failing world. I will admit I hated the man - he was animal that was out of control. Personally I felt, as probably did many others, that Frank shouldn't get into the ring with this vicious creature.
However, as Bruno states on page 192 ' I knew it was my last fight - this was my pension.'
Frank's description of his feelings and state of mind in the changing room just before the fight is deep and emotionally. It leaves you with little doubt of how this is going to end, although we all know how is does finish.
Considering this would be his last fight this chapter is relatively short as was the fight - 3 rounds and Bruno's in retirement.
CHAPTER 16 - Drugs, Divorce and Depression
The arrival of Franklin, retirement with his wife, his beautiful daughters is our hero happy? Well this chapter tells all about the hardest fight of all. Life after boxing and dealing with it. Frank's account of life in his Essex home is honest and deep. He tells us from the bottom of his heart how his mental state slides into the decline that puts him into Goodmayes.
This chapter is, in my opinion, the hardest hitting episode of Frank's life. We see a side of him that was a total contrast to the elite performer in the ring. The powerful truth of his honesty helps us see the awfulness of mental illness.
CHAPTER 17 - Courage
This final chapter of the book is very uplifting due to the positive manner in which it's written. The subject matter is of course a main contributor to this. Frank sums up his life lessons and experiences of beating all types of demons. His words reflect the strong fighter he has been and still is.
This book has been an honest and well - written insight into a world of fame, glory and personal devastation. This big man with his big punch and big smile has produced with this hard back of memories an account that everyone can relate to in some way.
Bruno still has a powerful presence as I had the privilege to discover in Bournemouth. His advice to one young boy, who was training as a boxer, will probably stay with him and the rest of the audience for ever.
Even if you're not a boxing fan I would recommend you read this book, it will be one you will not forget in a hurry.
Thanks for reading my thoughts in this review - it has been my longest one yet and I hope I haven't lost your interest. X hev
~ Also published on Ciao under Pixie65 ~