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Frankly, Bruno is national treasure

Former world heavyweight champion Frank Bruno came to Pagham last week in an after dinner meet and greet, courtesy of Luv Carpets and Ockley ABC.

 

One of Britain’s most loved heroes spoke at length of his glittering career including his two fights with all time great Mike Tyson and his famous championship win over Oliver McCall.

 

Over 100 people, including Bruno’s old sparring partner, former British champion Scot Welch, packed out The Inglenook on Pagham Road for a three-course meal followed by an evening’s entertainment of a Q&A with the champ.

 

The night was a huge hit with the locals who helped raise £3,400, half of which going to the Sussex Snowdrop Trust, the other being put towards new equipment for the boxers at Ockley ABC.

 

After a successful amateur career, Bruno turned professional and racked up 21 straight knockouts before losing to fellow world title contender James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith by knockout in the 10th round. After regrouping with a further four wins, he captured the European heavyweight title, knocking out swede Anders Eklund in the fourth back in 1985. Just nine months later Bruno challenged Tim Witherspoon for the world heavyweight championship. Though ahead on the scorecards, the Brit was stopped in the 11th.

 

He would later make two more unsuccessful attempts at the world title. The first of which, a five-round thriller with Iron Mike Tyson, ended in a stoppage loss for Bruno. Then a seventh round stoppage defeat to Lennox Lewis, in what was the first ever world heavyweight championship fight to be contested between two Britons.

 

But in 1995, after three failed attempts at the title, came that memorable night at Wembley Stadium when Bruno beat Oliver McCall via a twelve rounds points decision to become heavyweight champion of the world. He goes down as one of the biggest punchers in history with 38 knockouts of his 40 wins, a 95 per cent KO rating. “The night was a roaring success,” said Jack Keywood, owner of award-winning floor laying specialists Luv Carpets. “The people who attended all left with huge smiles on their faces. It was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves.”

 

Keywood cycled to Paris on an old pushbike, dressed as Mr Incredible with a group of other superhero fundraisers, to help raise over £120,000 for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust last June. He added: “It is a charity very close to my heart, they work tirelessly to give emotional and financial help to the families of children with life-threatening illnesses.

 

“I’m so grateful to all the local businesses who donated the raffle prizes to help raise vital funds and make the night a huge success.” Ockley ABC head coach Faz Chitima added “We’re all so happy with how it all went. Bruno was great entertainment as ever. The money we raised for the club will go a long way to supplying much needed new equipment and expenses for our dedicated boxers.”

 

It fills me with tremendous pride seeing members of our tight-knit community pulling together to raise money for such worthy causes. Hats off to Faz, Jack and, of course, our national treasure Frank Bruno.

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