Almanack: Not so grand, to be Frank

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The Independent Online
FRANK BRUNO has attracted a lot of criticism for the brevity of his contest last week with Jesse Ferguson. But many carpers failed to appreciate the finer qualities of the evening: in particular, the high comedy of the entrance of the gladiators. First Ferguson emerged to doomy synthesised chords, peering out from under his dressing gown's snood in a sheepish manner.

After a portentous pause, Big Frank, spotlit among the draped Union Jacks as the fanfare of Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory' blared. A raised fist, then the slow stomp to the ring as the half-empty arena went as batty as it could. 'There are entrances,' Harry Carpenter intoned, 'and there are entrances. That was an entrance.'

Boxers never used to enter the ring in this ridiculous manner. The controversial entrepreneur Ambrose Mendy pioneered the phenomenon in Britain, first testing the boundaries of taste at the 1989 Benn-Watson contest, when Benn leapt into the spotlights from behind a black curtain wearing a gold lame jumpsuit. Advance publicity for the event had indicated that Tina Turner would be accompanying Nigel, but she failed to show and the Dark Destroyer was instead followed to the ring by Anita Dobson.

Despite this setback aficionados rate this slightly ahead of Bruno's entrance in style terms. Ambrose also pioneered the blondes-with-Union-Jacks theme that Bruno's handlers have adopted.

Jack Solomons, a power in British boxing long before Mendy came on the scene, relied on a dignified combination of bugles and spotlights to welcome his fighters. Mickey Duff later pioneered the use of 2001 - A Space Odyssey as an accompaniment. More recently, Chris Eubank's vault into the ring added an acrobatic element to his approach work - but as fans and detractors alike will agree, it has never been entirely clear with Eubank where the posing ends and the fighting begins.

(Photograph omitted)