Vital Boxing | Remembering 19th July 1986
Vital Login
Social Login

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Boxing, It's Vital'

Remembering 19th July 1986

As a youngster I always had an interest in Boxing.

I can recall sitting in front of the television glued to such illustrious programmes as Sportsnight and Grandstand, enthralled by the sight of two pugilists coming up against each other in a head-to-head battle.

As I entered the climax of my teenage years, and with my pockets now lined with cash, I started to venture into London to watch the odd show or two, picking out my own favourite boxers to spend my hard-earned cash on.

Now during those early years, I’d also closely followed the career of a budding legend, a likeable young man who had shown promise, power, a physique many would be proud of and a wicked line in humour when it came to chatting with the legendary Harry Carpenter.

Of course, the boxer in question was Frank Bruno.

With age now creeping up on me and with my memory often getting a little fazed, I can still remember the march Frank made towards the top. I can recall Frank wobbling (badly) when tagged by Jumbo Cummings and the despair I felt when the unbeaten record went against James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith when, at the time, Frank looked to have the fight in the bag.

But, aided by an excellent managerial team, Frank was soon within sight of a world title shot, all that stood between him was a clash with the big white South African, Gerrie Coetzee. The night of the fight is still vivid in my mind. With the family lounge vacated by all but myself, I huddled in front of the radiogram and tuned into the radio commentary. With the crowd cheering Frank on, Coetzee was soon in trouble and when a huge blow dumped him on the ring canvas, arms and legs sprawled outside the ring, Frank had an early knockout victory and the world title shot was his.

With the negotiations having been concluded, Frank was to face the reigning champion Tim Witherspoon at Wembley Stadium. Immediately, I knew I had to be there. Emptying out my bank account I took the train journey into London and arrived at the Soho offices of Mike Barrett and Mickey Duff, to purchase two tickets. The only trouble being that all I could afford, despite it being a huge outlay at the time, were two tickets right at the back of the famous old stadium, although the young lady behind the counter did give me a few promotional posters to adorn my bedroom wall.

On the day of the fight, with my younger brother in tow, we were in London some twelve hours before the fight was scheduled to commence. As is the norm on such occasions, the sights of London were visited, a few ale houses were frequented and a general relaxing time was had by all.

But, as early afternoon slipped into late afternoon, we found ourselves sat on the grassy slopes between the famous old venue and the stadium itself watching the crowds building up and generally soaking up the atmosphere. Little did we know that we were to witness the arrival of one of the greatest names of our fine sport has ever had.

Sensing an increase in the atmosphere, we became aware of a huddle of suited gentlemen heading in our direction. Stood in the middle of them was a face that most people around the globe would instantly recognize, that of Muhammed Ali. Naturally, courtesy of the bodyguards in his entourage, there was no chance of getting close enough for an autograph or even a photo, but it was a scintillating moment as the crowd around me flocked to tread in his very footsteps.

Finally entering the stadium, our disappointment at finding just how far away from the ring our seats were changed to excitement that we were now just hours away from seeing Frank Bruno fight for the world title. The next few hours remain a blur, I guess the adrenalin fuelled anticipation relating to the main event helped to erode any of the early bout action.

But, as darkness descended the arena had a distinct aura about it, the seating areas began to fill up and the noise levels started to increase. Soon, after a wait that seemed almost endless, Bruno, the challenger, was on his way to the ring. Union flags fluttered everywhere as serious chants of Bruno, Bruno, Bruno filled the night air.

With Frank stalking around the ring, bobbing, weaving and shadow-boxing to keep the muscles loose, we awaited the ring arrival of Witherspoon, the champion. Emerging from the shadows, but from a fair distance away, we could see the huddled figure of the champion, surrounded by his entourage, making his way to the ring. For Witherspoon there were no large national flags, just his whole entourage waving miniature version of the familiar stars and stripes, once again the noise levels were upped a notch.

The crowd, in the early rounds, urged Frank on but Witherspoon showed his champion credentials by withstanding Frank’s surges and stopping Frank in his tracks with a few hearty blows of his own. I can recall the noise levels being like nothing I’d heard before at a Boxing promotion before, but as we edged through the middle rounds and towards the latter rounds, the tide turned significantly. Frank was in trouble, his stamina had been sapped, his blows were now few and far between and lacking power and conviction.

Witherspoon sensed this and upped the pressure, the noise levels dipped as it became clear Frank was in trouble, he’d come off worse in an exchange of hefty right handed blows. Thoughts about holding on to the end of the round and then trying to clear his head, get a minutes rest and come again were prevalent, but it wasn’t to be. Frank’s dreams of becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the World had ended in round eleven, with the referee having to step in to prevent Frank coming to serious harm.

Frank looked desolate, drained and inconsolable as he sat on his stool. The huge crowd started to drift away and the journey home was a solemn affair, the dream had died but Bruno was to rise again, but that’s another story!


The Journalist

Writer: Kid Glove Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday May 29 2013

Time: 4:33PM

Your Comments

lovely article, brings back so many memories, hopefully there will be more like this one!
Red Boy
I'm with Red Boy on this one, more of the same please
merlin
a glorious night in north west London but it ended not the way we wated it to!
Al Billy
yes, and more of a similar ilk please
Al Billy
I'll second that and I reckon when the nation woke up, on the Sunday morning, it was in a state of shock for the loss, such was the esteem in which Bruno was held by the population
Putney
 

Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Vital Boxing Articles

Is Tyson Fury on the way back? (Tuesday April 25 2017)

Hughie Fury v Joseph Parker Off (Monday April 24 2017)

Murray v Rosado – Liverpool Tonight (Saturday April 22 2017)

Joshua Ready for All-Comers (Saturday April 22 2017)

Conlan to Fight in Chicago (Thursday April 20 2017)

Fourth Time Lucky for Saint George? (Thursday April 20 2017)

Joshua and Fury in Social Network Blast (Wednesday April 19 2017)

Fury v Parker – Set for UK Move? (Sunday April 16 2017)

Okolie Makes It 2 KO’S out of 2 (Sunday April 16 2017)

The Views of the Boxers (Sunday April 16 2017)

Indongo Confident of Beating Burns (Friday April 14 2017)

Touting Rules the Roost (Wednesday April 12 2017)

Campbell Added to Wembley Show (Monday April 10 2017)

A Bad Week for Frampton (Sunday April 9 2017)

Selby Ordered to Fight Barros (Sunday April 9 2017)

What Next for Flanagan? (Sunday April 9 2017)

It’s Huck v Breidis Tonight (Saturday April 1 2017)

Adams Set for Professional Debut (Saturday April 1 2017)

Kessler Set for Ring Return. (Saturday April 1 2017)

Saunders Gives Golovkin a Deadline (Tuesday March 28 2017)

McGoldrick Wins Professional Debut (Monday March 27 2017)

Crolla Soundly Beaten by Linares (Monday March 27 2017)

Okolie’s Super-Quick Debut KO (Monday March 27 2017)

Katie Taylor Makes It 4 out of 4 (Monday March 27 2017)

Brook v Spence Press Conference (Thursday March 23 2017)

Golovkin Wants Saunders Next (Monday March 20 2017)

Lee Wins on Ring Comeback. (Sunday March 19 2017)

Golovkin v Jacobs – Weigh-In (Saturday March 18 2017)

Conlan Wins on Professional Debut (Saturday March 18 2017)

Crolla Primed for His Big Night (Friday March 17 2017)

Bellew Requires Hand Surgery (Wednesday March 15 2017)

Burns Takes the Dangerous Option (Tuesday March 14 2017)

Barnes Wins on Points (Saturday March 11 2017)

Conlan Wins by Split Decision (Saturday March 11 2017)

Cleverly v Jack in the Pipeline? (Friday March 10 2017)

A 16 Boxer Shoot-Out (Friday March 10 2017)

Haye Willing to Pay Fine (Thursday March 9 2017)

Parker v Fury Date Confirmed (Wednesday March 8 2017)

Haye Set to Fight On (Wednesday March 8 2017)

Is Bellew Set to Call it a Day? (Wednesday March 8 2017)

Taylor Back in the Ring on March 25th (Wednesday March 8 2017)

Pacquiao v Khan ISN’T Happening (Wednesday March 8 2017)

Haye on Losing to Bellew (Sunday March 5 2017)

Bellew on Defeating Haye (Sunday March 5 2017)

Bellew Stops Haye in Round 11 (Sunday March 5 2017)

Selby Set to Become a Free Agent (Saturday March 4 2017)

Russian Heavyweight Povetkin Banned (Saturday March 4 2017)

O2 Arena, London – Line-Up (Friday March 3 2017)

Haye v Bellew – Weigh-In (Friday March 3 2017)

Messing With Our Heads (Thursday March 2 2017)

Fury Spotted (Wednesday March 1 2017)

Haye v Bellew – Referee (Wednesday March 1 2017)

BBBoC - Haye Ban Threat (Wednesday March 1 2017)

WBC Want Wilder v Stiverne II (Monday February 27 2017)

Bellew Lets Rip at Haye (Monday February 27 2017)

McDonnell v Vargas – What They Said (Sunday February 26 2017)

Pacquiao v Khan IS ON (Sunday February 26 2017)

Archived Vital Boxing Articles

List All Vital Boxing Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll

Vital Members League (view all)

1. merlin 642
2. Al Billy 373
3. Red Boy 131
4. Putney 123
5. Fulham Badger 103
6. Kid Glove 73
7. oxfordspur 54
8. hogeyman 31
9. eliza jhon 17
10. rorzzman 16

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

Joshua v Klitschko - Who Wins?
Suggested By:  Kid Glove
Joshua! 80%
Klitschko! 20%
Too Close to Call! 0%