Exclusive: Frank Bruno reflects on career, discusses role of mental health issues in movie project

Former WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno has informed WBN of his delight to have been asked to turn his boxing career and life outside the ring into a forthcoming movie.

The 54 year-old, who famously won the world title at the fourth attempt on a massive night at Wembley Stadium in 1995, has entrusted Writer and Script Editor David P. Davis, who has worked on a number of BBC shows, with duties for the film – which will hopefully begin shooting in 2017.

A Kickstarter page has raised almost £3,000 so far towards the project and there’s already been talk of Hollywood star and UK actor Idris Elba taking the lead role of Bruno himself.

As Bruno explained, there’s been plenty of talk of his compelling story hitting the big screen since he retired from the sport twenty years ago, although the Londoner now feels the time is right to get the ball rolling.

“Many people have approached my agent and myself about doing a movie but I’ve just lived my life and got on with it,” Bruno exclusively told World Boxing News.

“I have thought people find it interesting, and obviously me going from being a builder’s mate to a world champion boxer is a story in itself.

“Then there’s also been the mental health issues, moving from a boxer to an entertainer, and of course, many of the great characters that have been stepping stones in my story make it quite a good one to tell. Put it all together and you have Frank Bruno: The Movie!”

Asked whether the movie will focus more on his career or the issues outside of the ring following his retirement, Bruno answered: “I suppose there are lessons in my life story that whoever you are, colour, race or imperfections; you can – with dedication, get to the top of your chosen path.

“But I would like to think that as a mental health ambassador that I have already given the issue a good spotlight. The many letters I receive monthly confirm that, however, a film will open up my story to a new audience and if that can help sufferers or carers then we will have done a good job.”

And who does Bruno hope will portray him?

“Well the public tell me that Idris Elba would be a good choice, and I liked Will Smith in Ali, but I am sure there is someone out there who can play me. However, they’ll need to learn the mannerisms, and of course, the laugh,” he joked.

The obvious highlight of Bruno’s career and the ultimate crescendo for production would be that special night on September 2nd twenty odd years ago when Frank ripped away Oliver McCall’s green belt to fulfil his destiny.

Everyone involved in UK boxing, or watching as a fan at the time, knows where they were the night Bruno finally realised his lifelong dream – as good pal Nigel Benn screamed for the duration like a mad man on the edge of the ring apron.

That achievement will forever define Frank’s career, and rightly so, something Bruno holds dear when reminiscing on his fourteen-year stint in what can be the toughest and loneliest sport in the world.

“You have to remember I was a cheeky black kid in a racist area who used to have too much energy and watch Muhammad Ali all the time,” Bruno recalled.

“One day, I said to my family, ‘I want to be a world champion like Ali’ – but for it to happen at Wembley, a special place where football teams went to for a cup final and where England played and won the World Cup, for me, that was amazing.

“Just to win the world championship was a dream. Technically, it was probably not my best fight and Oliver McCall had this immense strength in delivering punches and also receiving them, so it was like fighting two people in one body. He just seemed to absorb everything I threw at him, but I won and sometimes fights won are not the prettiest.”

He went on: “Holding that belt up in the air, suddenly years and years of memories go through your mind like a montage. My dad, who sadly did not see me win the belt flash before me, then all the hours and hours in the gym pounding the streets in the rain and snow. Having very little money to start with and wondering where the next pound is coming from and also my mum, who used to go to a prayer meeting whenever I fought, not to mention my family and my kids.

“All that is going thought your mind in one minute of total relief but I thought, ‘I’ve done it! – I am the world champion. It’s real and I’m not dreaming.”

Fast-forward to 2016, and despite some negativity in the press, Bruno is back in the spotlight for all the right reasons and looking forward to a future branching out, not only to movies but into fashion.

Recently launching a new clothing line, Bruno has plenty to look forward to in the future and hopes something good can come from all the years of hard graft, dedication and fond memories he gave to the sport.

“(The clothing line) Is going well. It’s early days yet, but the people who have bought items – from children, women and men, all seem to be delighted with the range,” he revealed.

“It’s a selection that I am happy to wear myself and I consider that I have a good eye for stylish clothing. I wanted it to look smart, even if it’s casual clothing. It took a while to get the right products together and we can only build on that going forward.

“In regards to the movie, I like to think my story is unique and there’s a bit of Rocky in there.

“My battles in and out the ring (dealing with mental health) are there for all to see, but I’m just been trying to be a champion of them all and I hope your readers will be able to judge that for themselves,” concluded Bruno.

Frank Bruno’s website is wwwfrankbruno.co.uk for details about the film, merchandise and signed memorabilia

Also, visit the Kickstarter page for Bruno: The Movie here