Frank Brandon’s Column

Bruno right to turn down ‘comeback’ offer!

Our man Frank on Frank Bruno’s decision to avoid a ill-advised showdown with Evander Holyfield, not feeling too sorry for perennial runners-up Mayo, and the latest gritty crime drama to hit our screens…

Back in the eighties and into the mid-nineties, Frank Bruno was a pretty decent British boxer. He won the WBC heavyweight title in 1995 by beating Oliver McCall at a packed Wembley Stadium in what was his fourth world championship attempt. He also fought Mike Tyson twice, as well as fellow Englishman Lennox Lewis. He had, as they say in boxing, “a great right hand” and of his forty professional wins, an amazing total of 38 were by knockout. In fact, in a recent documentary, Tyson admitted that he too was almost rendered senseless by Bruno’s punching power.

The British public loved him, partly because of his boxing prowess, but partly because he was regarded as some sort of lovable fool. His popularity has remained at a high level with the ordinary people ever since. His interviews with boxing commentator Harry Carpenter were legendary, and his catchphrase – “You know what I mean, ‘Arry” – is still instantly recognisable to all sports fans. Upon retirement, he had a reasonably successful media career, with appearances on several television programmes. He then released a version of the song, ‘Eye of the Tiger’, which reached number 28 in the American charts.

It then transpired that he had some mental health problems. He suffered greatly with depression and was eventually diagnosed as bipolar, although in 2005 he admitted that cocaine abuse had hugely contributed to those health issues.

Anyway, that would be that as far as Frank Bruno and I were concerned if I hadn’t read recently that someone had offered him £120,000 to come out of retirement and fight the legendary Evander Holyfield, another great boxer from years ago, but one who is now 58-years-old.

How anyone in their right mind could think that genuine boxing fans would pay to see an almost sixty-year-old Bruno fight Holyfield beats me. I’m glad to say that the Englishman turned the offer down, even if only because he would be in danger of going blind since his sight was so badly damaged in his bouts with Iron Mike Tyson.

Boxing has always been tainted with controversy thanks to its association with the Mafia in the old days, and present-day organised crime, but it seems to me that money was always at the centre of its bad reputation. Whoever was trying to get two aging fighters to go into a ring and beat the living daylights out of each other surely had no other motive apart from a handy payday.

Thank God it didn’t happen. We are all the better for that – “You know what I mean, ‘Arry”!


Mayo’s no-show on the biggest stage

Last week, I couldn’t get over the wonderful entertainment provided by the super ladies of Ireland: the Meath All-Ireland winning footballers, Cavan’s pride and joy, golfer Leona Maguire, and everyone’s golden girl, Katie Taylor. I had predicted that the men’s football final would not be as exciting or as entertaining as the ladies’ one, and as I write this, after seeing yet another demoralising failure by Mayo to banish their curse and bring home the Sam Maguire, I take little pleasure in saying I was right.

I know Mayo missed enough chances to win ten Sam Maguires, but as the game entered its final stages, most onlookers knew that Tyrone would end up as champions. In fact, for a good while towards the end, it was really only a question of how much the northerners would win by. By the end, there was little to no excitement (unless of course you were from Tyrone), as yet another All-Ireland bid for the Connacht champions ended in terrible disappointment and despair.

In other years, I had felt so sorry for Mayo. They suffered some awful hard luck stories on their big days in Croker, but despite missing a penalty in Saturday’s final, I got the feeling that for whatever reason, they just didn’t show up and were deservedly beaten. Maybe it was the fact that people made them favourites after beating the Dubs, or maybe the curse really does exist. A few years ago I would have said that there was no way such a curse could be real, but now I’m not so sure!


Great support for Creggs All-Ireland draw

As I told you last week, my local GAA club, Creggs, held a draw for two All-Ireland stand tickets for last Saturday’s game. So on Thursday, I took off to Castlerea to try and sell a few tickets, my reasoning being that plenty of Mayo farmers would be in town for Mart day. Needless to say, I couldn’t go into Castlerea Mart itself, but I thought I might intercept some of the farmers on their way in.

I had a homemade placard held up to let people know what I was at, and in fairness to the Rossies, lads from the local clubs supported me – including Ballinameen, Castlerea, St. Joseph’s, Oran, and Glinsk. As it turned out, those couple of hours spent having the craic and the chat were both very enjoyable and fairly profitable. However, when I reflected on my day, I realised that only one lad from Mayo bought a line for the draw, so either they were sick and tired of lads putting cards in front of them for similar draws, or maybe they felt Tyrone would be too good for them.

Anyway, later that night, Creggs GAA Club livestreamed the draw to the world, and the good news is that the tickets were won by a real Mayo supporter living in Herefordshire in England, a man called David Moran whose parents both hailed from the western county. He was absolutely thrilled, and couldn’t get over how lucky he was to win them. That was Thursday night however, so maybe if I spoke to him now he wouldn’t be feeling quite as lucky!

And so, we come back to the ladies. This time it was the turn of the camogie players of Galway and Cork to serve up another Croke Park thriller in the final, a game that the Tribeswomen won by three points in the end, but a game that was in the melting pot right up to the final whistle.

Galway were never behind until the closing stages of the match when, with just over ten minutes left, Cork scored a goal, putting them ahead by three points. However, following this, that was when Galway truly began to show the heart, courage, and quality of champions. From there to the finish, they outscored the Cork ladies by 1-4 to a single point.

I won’t deny that I was shouting like a madman at the telly as the game headed into the final minutes, and for the second week in a row, the team I wanted to win ended up as All-Ireland champions. What a game, and what another great advertisement for women’s sport.

What sport they have on next week I don’t know, but I’ll find some somewhere!


Finally for this week…


On Sunday night, the new ‘Love/Hate’ of Irish television, ‘Kin’, appeared on our screens, and the eagerly awaited drama about the criminal underworld didn’t disappoint.

We had a bit of everything – drug abuse, huge money changing hands, a drive-by shooting, the subsequent revenge murder of a young lad, and with seven more episodes to go, I must admit that I am already hooked! The drug-dealing Kinsella family were the main characters featured last night, but as the show develops, I’m sure we will meet many more dangerous and psychopatic characters. I am already looking forward to next Sunday night for episode two.


Till next week, Bye for now!