Frank BrunoAt MJK Sports, we are honoured to work with some of the greatest sportsmen of our era and it is great getting to know the person behind the public image through the special nights we organise to celebrate their achievements.

In May 2015 we had the privilege of welcoming Frank Bruno to a packed Victoria Hall in Keighley. It was a truly brilliant evening.

Everyone in the UK knows what a superb boxer Frank was and his warmth and kind spirit have been well documented over the years. But on that Keighley night he surprised us all – proving that he really is one of the nicest, most humble and down-to-earth success stories you could ever hope to meet.

Still looking like he was milled from a solid block of testosterone Bruno maintains the physique he forged through years working in the gym and much sparring in the ring.

At around 6ft 2 ins and weighing over seventeen and a half stone at his peak, Frank was a formidable fighter who reached the pinnacle of his career in September 1995 by beating Oliver McCall to become WBC Heavyweight Champion.

It marked the end of a dream – a long, hard slog for Frank, having been on the road thirteen years brawling, mauling and hauling his way to the top. He had dedicated his life to cherishing the dream of being World Boxing Champion; trading blows with the best in the business and recording victories in almost 90% of all bouts throughout his professional career.

Frank never shrank from a challenge. He tasted victory and occasional defeat, savouring the
make-or-break highs and the lows that can put an end to life-long ambitions. Nowadays he talks with gusto about the fights he lost, sagely reflecting that he only learnt to appreciate his victories after tasting defeat which enabled him to fully understanding what it meant to him to lose a bout.

But there is so much more to this warrior than his bruising encounters in the ring. The British
public took Bruno to their hearts; it didn’t matter whether you liked boxing or not –
Frank had talent, charisma, humour and charm and was imbued with the ‘X factor’ long before that phrase was hijacked to make celebrities out of nonentities.

Yet it is curious to think that Frank Bruno probably owes much of his enduring appeal
to a fighter from a different generation: the sight of Henry Cooper dumping the world’s greatest boxer on the canvas with a thunderous left hook in June 1963 made Henry a national hero – even though he failed in his tilt at the world crown against Cassius Clay.

Cooper was a heavyweight hero whose appeal enabled him to pioneer the move from sportsman to celebrity. His soaring popularity only served to ratchet up our appetite for a boxing superstar and when he finally moved out of the limelight, we were eager for another fighter to take his place.

Cue the arrival of Frank Bruno who, like Cooper, was effortlessly urbane, polite and courteous outside the boxing ring yet courageous, belligerent and brutal inside the ropes.

This paradox was a heady cocktail; we loved Frank Bruno’s sharp wit and his trademark, sonorous laughter. TV executives were quick to exploit his popularity. He made regular television appearances and he even became a firm pantomime favourite with parents and children; you can’t get more eclectic than that!

Boxing and a spin-off career made Bruno a wealthy man but he always kept his feet on the ground, never allowing the acclaim, the money or the adulation to go to his head. Yet it was what was going on inside that head that generated arguably the biggest challenge of the boxer’s life.

In 2003, Frank suffered a very public mental breakdown. It never dented his image because with typical gusto, he didn’t flinch from tackling the problem both stoically and publicly. He has always been willing to talk openly about his personal life and the bipolar condition which left him temporarily hospitalised.

Because of his openness about a taboo illness, Frank became both an inspiration and a talisman for fellow bipolar sufferers.

Today, he enjoys the fruits of a successful career that took him to the peak of the boxing profession. In discussion, he talks honestly about the victories that spurred him on and the defeats that drove him back to a hard training regime designed to make him a better, fitter, stronger fighter.

Frank continues to be adored by the public as well as everyone connected with boxing. And rightly so. When he talks about his life he offers a powerful insight into a world without compromise. He tells of his opponents as well as the trainers, commentators and promoters that helped shape his career.

At MJK Sports we aim to work with only the very best sporting professionals. That is why we were deeply proud and honoured to bring this iconic fugure to Keighley to meet fans of not only Frank Bruno the boxer, but more significantly, Frank Bruno the man.