Frank Bruno: Boxing champion talks about his battle with mental health problems

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He is used to taking on fearsome opponents in the ring.

But Frank Bruno described another fight when he visited Leeds – battling discrimination against people with mental health problems.

The boxer talked about his experiences of bipolar disorder to members of a health trust.

Before receiving a standing ovation from the audience, he told them: “A lot of people have bad stigma against people with mental health problems and bipolar. I am here to make people more aware.

“It’s nice that up and down the country, people are standing up for themselves.”

“It could be your sister, your brother,” he added.

“I hope that the campaign goes on forever to stop people taking the mickey.”

He was speaking at the Annual Members Day of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services in Leeds, in support of the Time to Change campaign challenging stigma against those with mental ill-health.

Frank was surrounded by excited fans and spoke to them individually and signed autographs before taking to the stage at Harewood House.

The boxer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder nine years ago and has been very publicly sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

He said he believed he had suffered from the disorder since being a child and continued to undergo treatment.

Regular training at the gym was his way of coping with the condition, he said: “I don’t stand still too long and I always go to the gym to exhaust myself out.”

The sportsman discussed The Sun’s famously controversial headline when he was sectioned, which sparked a massive outcry.

He dismissed it as “tomorrow’s fish and chip paper” but added: “It was very, very cruel.

“There was a big backlash and people came together and said it was out of order and below the belt.”

The 50-year-old also spoke about his boxing career, including revealing how it felt to fight against Mike Tyson.

“It was a very nerve-wracking experience,” he said.

“Going into the ring with him, you never knew what was going to happen.”

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