Boxing: Conteh pays tribute to 'motivator' Francis

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The former world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh has paid tribute to the boxing trainer George Francis, who has died aged 73. Francis, who guided both Conteh and Frank Bruno to world titles, was found hanged at his London home. He had been depressed after his wife, Joan, and a son, Simon, died from cancer in the past three years.

Conteh, WBC world light-heavyweight champion from 1974-77, said: "George was as good as any trainer in the world. I won the world title with him and had a terrific working relationship with him. George had everything – technical ability and the psychological knowledge of how to get the best out of fighters. He knew where you were coming from and where you wanted to go."

He added: "It's just so tragic and so sad for his family. People sometimes said he was just a conditioner, but he was so much more than that. He was a great trainer, coach, motivator and mentor."

In a highly-successful career, Francis also trained the London-based Ugandan world champions John Mugabi and Cornelius Boza-Edwards. Mickey Duff, who promoted most of his fighters, said: "His strength was that he was an outstanding teacher. He was very capable of getting his fighters in the best possible condition."