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Lovable Loser Frank Bruno Retires With Eye Problem

August 30, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Six weeks ago, Frank Bruno was talking about a third title fight with Mike Tyson. On Friday, the 34-year-old announced his retirement after learning he might lose vision in one eye if he kept fighting.

Tyson all but ended Bruno’s career in March _ in what turned out to be the Briton’s last fight _ when he pummeled him and then knocked him out in the third round of their WBC title fight in March in Las Vegas.

Bruno went into the fight as the world champion, a title it took him 13 years and four attempts to land. He came out as the good-humored loser _ an overachiever who was fortunate to ever win a world title _ and remains one of Britain’s most popular sports figures.

``I’ve had a good innings, I’m chilled,″ Bruno said Friday. ``We’ve all had a big cut of the cake, I’ve had my fair share and I don’t want to be greedy.

``I’ve just had to duck and dive, try to do well in this life. I’ve tried to make my way and I have achieved a lot, but I haven’t got an ounce of regret, no regrets at all.″

Bruno was advised to retire by Dr. David McLeod, who told him it was unlikely he would pass his eyesight standards to box in Britain, and might lose his vision in one eye with a blow to his head.

``I shed a tear when I was told, but life goes on,″ Bruno said. ``One door shuts and another opens, that’s what you hope.″

Bruno had 45 fights, won 40 and had 38 knockouts. He lost three world title fights before winning the crown by beating Oliver McCall in a unanimous decision at Wembley on Sept. 2, 1995.

Bruno was only the third Briton ever to hold a world heavyweight title, but his reign as world champion lasted only until March when he met Tyson in his first defense.

Born in south London, Bruno was a street kid who was kicked out of school at 11 and was sent to an institution for problem boys. The school helped him channel his energy toward boxing.

He turned pro in 1982 and four years later fought for the WBA title, but was stopped in the 11th round by American Tim Witherspoon.

He challenged Tyson three years later in 1989, rocking the champion with a left hook in the first round before being battered into submission in the fifth. Bruno’s third title shot ended with a seventh-round loss to WBC champ Lennox Lewis in 1993.

The eye problem is not Bruno’s first. In the early 1980s, he had to have an operation to correct blurred sight and weakness in the peripheral vision of his right eye before British officials would give him a license to box. Several years later, he also had an operation for a detached retina.

Out of the ring, Bruno parlayed his image as a wholesome. Mr. Nice Guy into a TV career, advertising various products. He also appeared in Christmas stage productions called pantomimes.

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