Legend Bruno is frank about being a pro boxer and growing up in Wandsworth

BOXING legend Frank Bruno has offered some pearls of wisdom for the next generation of British boxers.

“Listen to people that have been there and done it. They have the T-shirt, learn from them,” he said.

As a former WBC heavyweight champion, the former Wandsworth resident certainly has the T-shirt, and 12 years on from his last book he is about to release a new autobiography Let Me Be Frank.

He is a touch cynical about the huge price tags attached to the sport these days: “The important thing for any boxer getting a taste of financial success is to keep your feet on the ground.

“Don’t believe everything people promise you until you see the money in your bank account.”

High-profile fights such as Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko and most recently Conor McGregor against Floyd Mayweather have taken the sport to new levels of both popularity and commercialism.

The latter Money Fight took place in Nevada in August and marked Irishman McGregor’s first foray into professional boxing, having made his name as a mixed martial artist in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The fight pocketed Mayweather a reported £300 million, and McGregor a relatively meagre £100 million.

Bruno retired from boxing in 1996, after a severe eye injury acquired in a bout against Mike Tyson threatened his sight.

His advice for today’s up-and-coming boxers is to be wary. “Remember the professional sports career is short – invest your time and money wisely,” he said.

“Always respect the paying public and fans who will help you on your way up the ladder to success, as you might need them on your way down.

“Try and hold onto your friends you had before you had any success, and who will still be your friend if you have money or not.”

Bruno came from modest beginnings, growing up in Wandsworth. As a teenager, he remembers being a big lad for his age and receiving verbal abuse.

“I ended up getting in scraps quite often. My mum had to deal with other boys’ dads, but she was always fair.

“She knew her son was not always an angel.”

He fondly remembers, as he grew up, getting his freedom to meet people around the Wandsworth area.

Boxing was instrumental from an early age: he attended the now defunct boxing club at the Sir Philip Game Centre in Croydon between 1977 and 1980.

Bruno believes community sports clubs are essential. “It gets kids and teenagers off the streets or away from their computer games. If it’s down the road, there is no excuse for mums and dads not to encourage their children and teenagers to go there.”

Since retiring, he has been in the public eye more for his mental health troubles, including well-publicised bouts of depression and drug abuse. He set up the Frank Bruno foundation to help others going through similar experiences.

“This is non-contact boxing – all the training that boxers get, but you do not hit anybody. This is ideal for those with anger and mental health issues, and can really help. I think boxing training should be used in schools for boys and girls, especially non-contact training.”

Let Me Be Frank details Bruno’s experience of bipolar disorder and depression and is released on October 19.

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