Exclusive: Ex-Bruno opponent Witherspoon says boxers need more post-career help, age cap at 45
Tim Witherspoon has opened up to WBN on the recent Frank Bruno revelation thirty years on from the pair sharing a ring at Wembley stadium.
Bruno was 24 when then world heavyweight champion Witherspoon stopped him in the eleventh round of his first world title shot before the Briton went on to eventually claim a version of the crown ten years later.
Fast forward another two decades and Bruno was shown live on UK TV this week stating, ‘he has to make a comeback’ for the good of his mental health. The interview on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ segment prompted an outcry from the boxing world prior to the British Boxing Board of Control dismissing any chances of licensing the 54 year-old to box.
Witherspoon agrees with the decision to stop Bruno from making a return to the ring and says more needs to be done to help retired fighters come to terms with life once their career is finally over.
“I believe, like many, that Frank shouldn’t come back and fight. But saying that, things should be laid out and put in place better for us to do something to replace our ring career after boxing,” Witherspoon exclusively told World Boxing News.
“It’s embarrassing to watch and if they asked me to come back in that way I would say no because we need life after punching each other. Frank is hell of a man and a really nice guy, but I really don’t think you should come back and box when you’ve been out so long.
“I think Frank should be offered to do commentating if he’s capable of doing it, but there are definitely other jobs we can do. Other boxers have come back when they shouldn’t, and there’s been a lot, but only in some cases can you say, yes, they made the right choice coming back.
“I definitely say no to Frank Bruno coming back, but like I said, he’s a really nice person and should be respected as the champion that he is. Find him a job in boxing that can keep him from wanting to fight, and while you’re there find me one too and the rest of the boxing world who still have the fire!”
Now 58 himself and retired since 2003, ‘Terrible Tim’ is looking into the possibility of launching some sort of union for boxers who need help after hanging up their gloves. Witherspoon has been saddened by the number of veterans who struggle to cope with life in the ‘normal world’ as well being disappointed at the lack of post-career support.
“Boxing should be respected by the world just like they do American football, English football and sports all over the world,” he pointed out.
“A lot of sports have unions in order to prepare for life after their sports career, so it’s time for boxing to join together and raise money for a union so we can also be respected in retirement.
“That’s what I’m doing at the moment. Me and a gentleman named Paul Johnson out of Minnesota. We hope to change things for the better.
“Once Paul and I get this union together we will look to offer help to boxers who find it difficult, even if they are in good shape financially, because I believe that by the time they reach 45 should be doing other things like commentating or training boxers.
“Boxing has given everything to them and it’s their time to give back and have another role. I think some boxers are scared that they won’t be given another chance unless they fight, but if they believe in unions or organizations that can help them after boxing and it could make a big difference.”
“We have nothing against promoters and managers as they deserve a place in the boxing world too, but they make millions also and everybody needs to care more for the punishment we get in the ring.
“Boxers are the ones who take the bruises the bumps and we need to be taken care of – and not just whilst we are boxing,” added Witherspoon.