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BEING FRANK

You think you know all there is to know about Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren? Think again…
Donald McRae

I CAN’T believe it,” Frank Warren says as he reflects on the fact that next year will mark another boxing milestone for him. It will be exactly 40 years since he began working as a promoter and the truth makes Warren wince and smile at the same time. “The years just blur because it all goes so quickly. Forty years have flown by.”

A new decade will begin next month with the buildup to yet another massive fight as Tyson Fury, whom Warren promotes, prepares to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in February. This British boxing year will end on December 21 with Warren’s ‘Fight Before Christmas’ promotion as his latest heavyweight prospect, Daniel Dubois, faces Kyotaro Fujimoto. It should be another explosive ending in favour of Dubois even if Fujimoto has lost only once in eight years as a professional. But, before we talk about Fury, Dubois and many of the other fighters who have made his career so vivid and successful, it seems the right time to go back to the beginning and, also, to talk more personally to Warren. “When I was a kid,” Warren says, “I got into boxing because I didn’t know any different. I lived on a council estate [in Islington, North London]. I come from a tough background and boxing wasn’t a career for me. I just got involved in it. A couple of my cousins were fighters and I knew a lot of people in the fight business. My uncle and my dad were big friends with Angelo and Chris Dundee when they used to come over. I met Sonny Liston. I was only a kid when he came over. It was around 1963 and I was still at school.”

Did Liston exude that infamous intimidating force while in London? “He did. It’s an old cliché but I remember him skipping rope to Night Train, the great James Brown song. All the fighters in those days used to have cards. Liston had a big card with a photograph of him on it and I said, ‘Would you sign it?’ He did and I’ve still got it somewhere. “I grew up with these larger-than-life figures.

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About Boxing News

AWARDS SEASON – Rating the best fighters and fights of the year and decade THE POWER LIST – Ranking the 50 most influential figures in the sport today FEATURES GALORE – Frank Warren, Bob Arum and the 50 greatest boxing films MUCH, MUCH MORE – Inside our bumper 80-page Christmas special edition