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Growing up with five brothers and sisters in a terraced London house, Frank started at age 9 at the local Wandsworth Boys Club. He learned to box seriously while at Oak Hall School in Sussex, an establishment for ‘problem’ children.
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. He became a professional boxer in 1982, starting with 21 consecutive wins by knockout.
Great Britain hadn’t produced a World Champion in the Heavyweight division yet in the 20th century, but whispers started suggesting that this big lad from South London could be Britain’s next hopeful. There were a few years to wait yet.
In March 1984, at Wembley Stadium, American future world Heavyweight champion James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith, then a boxing journeyman, 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 lose a contest he had been clearly winning, and would have emerged victorious had he survived the final bell.
Frank got back into title contention with wins over the likes of former WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee on 4 March, 1986 at Wembley by knockout in round one.
In July 1986 he challenged Tim Witherspoon for 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 media commented that Frank 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 my head got in the way of Witherspoon’s fists!”
In 1989, Frank challenged Mike Tyson for the unified world Heavyweight title in Las Vegas. Although not winning, it was fair to say the whole of the UK was willing Frank on!
Frank kept winning fights, helping him to retain his spot as one of the world’s leading Heavyweights.
In 1994 Oliver McCall, after beating Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes, 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 Broooono!! A tour through London with the winning belt on an open top bus drew hundreds of thousands of fans to cheer and wave at Frank.
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