Boxing: Bruno given honour of England amateur role

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Less than two weeks ago Frank Bruno was released from a secure psychiatric hospital in Essex after his sectioning on 22 September.

Tonight, Bruno will appear in public for the first time since then when he leads England's amateur squad to the ring for their annual fixture against America at York Hall, Bethnal Green. It is fitting that Bruno has opted for an amateur night to break cover.

Before his sectioning the former world heavyweight champion had spent five days speaking to, surrounding himself with and looking for people from the business. He had been ringside at a low-key show in Dagenham and less than 48 hours before he was taken away he was in Croxteth, Liverpool, knocking on doors and looking for Wayne Rooney's brother who is an amateur boxer.

Bruno agreed to lead the English team tonight long before he was sectioned and on the second day that he was held he called the organisers to confirm that he would not let them down. He made a similar call the moment he was released.

Since leaving hospital Bruno has tried to avoid any publicity but that is hard when it is known that two so-called sports agents are trying to tie up exclusive deals with tabloid papers. Bruno is in theory in control of his story but one Sunday paper had to pull an exclusive when the fighter served an injunction against himself! There have been tales of hidden cameras smuggled into his home by so-called friends and it is clear that the days since his release have not been easy.

Before going away he pleaded to be left alone and hinted that he was no longer in charge of what was appearing in papers and being said about him. This seemingly hopeless state of affairs continued and it is understood that he was furious at some of the publicity that accompanied his release.

Over the last few days Bruno has completed a two-part interview with ITV's Trevor McDonald and there are rumours of a further and hopefully far more insightful version of his autobiography. It finally appears he is ready to stop performing his weary act of inanities and start putting the record straight in his own words.

Tonight, Bruno will meet Tim Witherspoon, who has agreed to lead the Americans to the ring, for the first time since their 1986 world title fight which ended with the British fighter a shattered wreck on the canvas.

Bruno wants to start a boxing and sports academy in the grounds of his Essex retreat and he has still not quite come to terms with the fact that he will never be allowed to fight again. Tonight, he will be back in the ring and that part, as he admitted at York Hall in February, is easy. "The fighting is not the problem, the problem is not fighting and having to deal with all the other pressures," he said.