Bruno's visit to raise mental health awareness

Frank Bruno raises mental health awareness
[Getty Images]

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno has admitted it was impossible to talk about his feelings during the height of his career for fear of being ridiculed.

Bruno is now a mental health campaigner after being diagnosed with depression and a bipolar disorder.

He has earned praise for speaking about his personal problems and was at West Ham on Saturday as part of the Premier League’s ‘Inside Matters’ campaign.

“Everybody has some sort of problems don’t they?” Bruno told BBC Sport. “People may have a drink problem, they may have a drug problem.

“But there are a lot of people, men especially, not talking about mental health at all. I was in a game where if you spoke about your feelings people would take the mickey out of you. It is sad.”

Although he has met Parliamentarians on numerous occasions to discuss greater support for mental health charities, he feels let down by what he views as a lack of tangible evidence of commitment to the cause.

It means high-profile stars like him have to keep the subject in the public consciousness.

“Towards the end of my career, I was told as a boxer, my toughest fight would be when I finish,” said Bruno, who was one of Britain’s most popular sports stars in his prime and became world champion in September 1995 when he beat Oliver McCall at Wembley.

“The thing was, it could have been any other member of my family and they wouldn’t take the mickey out of them. So why do it to me.

“We need to keep it in the public eye. It is difficult but if someone in your family dies, it is going to be on your shoulders.

“The situation is improving, people are willing to get advice for what is the best thing to do to keep them alive. There are a lot of places for people to go now without feeling scared or someone might take the mickey out of them.”