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20th July 1986 – Wembley Stadium

Were you there?

On this day in 1986, I was one of many thousands who descended on Wembley Stadium.

After having travelled down to Wardour Street, several weeks before, I’d handed over £100 for two tickets to the world heavyweight title fight between the champion Tim Witherspoon and the challenger Frank Bruno.

Bruno had the whole of Britain backing him after he’d earned the opportunity to fight for one of the biggest sporting prizes on the planet.

The fight was scheduled for very late in the evening, most probably to catch the US television audience and upon taking my seat inside Wembley Stadium I was a little shocked to discover just how far away I was from the action for my £100 for two tickets outlay.

But the experience was enthralling, it was my first big outdoor fight and as the hours were whiled away watching many an entertaining bout on the undercard, the big moment arrived.

I can remember the wall of noise that greeted the challenger, thousands upon thousands of fans booming out the familiar chant of BRUNO, BRUNOas Frank made his way to the ring, well-wishers wanting to give Frank their good luck messages.

With Frank in the ring, looking the perfect physical specimen, the Witherspoon camp made their way to the ring, each of them waving mini American flags, all helping to further stoke up the atmosphere as two nations separated by the Atlantic Ocean went to sporting war.

Once the action began, every punch Bruno landed was cheered to the rafters even if we weren’t sure, from where I was sitting, whether they were scoring punches or whether Witherspoon was catching them on his arms with his familiar crossed arms defence.

But as the fight progressed, the longer it went you sensed Witherspoon was coming out on top and in the 11th round Bruno found all his energy had been sapped from his frame and a barrage of punches, from the American, saw Frank suffer a defeat.

The journey home, after finally getting out of the Wembley car park, was a solemn one, but Frank was to have his day, albeit several years later, when he beat Oliver McCall to finally get his hands on that world title belt.

The days may belong in the past but the memories will never die.


The Journalist

Writer: Kid Glove Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday July 20 2016

Time: 4:42PM

 

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