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Former boxer and Norfolk author writes book about Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno

12:00 14 February 2017

Ralph Oates from North Lopham. Picture by: SONYA DUNCAN

Ralph Oates from North Lopham. Picture by: SONYA DUNCAN

They were two titans of the sport who didn’t pull their punches, inside or outside of the ring.

Frank Bruno at a sports experience day for disabled children in Thetford in 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFrank Bruno at a sports experience day for disabled children in Thetford in 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

And now a former boxer who lives in North Lopham, in South Norfolk, has chronicled the journey of two of the most formidable fighters in British history.

Ralph Oates’ 10th book on boxing details how Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno rose to the top of the sport.

He chose to write about the pair because of their influence on British boxing, as they were the first British heavyweight boxers to win European and world titles since Bob Fitzsimmons in the 1800s.

But Mr Oates’ book also focuses on the challenges Mr Bruno and Mr Lewis faced away from the boxing arena too, with Mr Bruno struggling with short-sightedness and Mr Lewis battling to win over fans who doubted his credentials.

Lennox Lewis. Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIRELennox Lewis. Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIRE

“You could say Bruno had his hardest fight without throwing a punch,” said Mr Oates, who has written several other books on the sport, articles for the British Boxing Board and acted as a boxing consultant for the Guinness Book of World Records.

“Whilst Bruno was a magnet with the fans, Lewis found it very hard.”

Mr Oates has not met the boxers in person but has seen both of them compete on several occasions, watching Mr Lewis fight on four occasions and Mr Bruno compete in six fights.

Ahead of the book’s release on May 11, it is already doing well in the online retailer Amazon’s pre-orders list for boxing books, reaching number 11 on its debut weekend.

Ralph Oates. Picture: PHILIP SHARKEYRalph Oates. Picture: PHILIP SHARKEY

Mr Oates said he “greatly enjoyed writing the book”, entitled Bruno and Lewis: The Boxing Years, which details the two boxers’ fights from the very beginning of their careers.

He is already planning his next book on boxing, which will be a compendium on the different weight classes within the sport.

Mr Oates’ other books include The Ultimate Boxing Quiz Book, the Noble Art of Heavyweight Boxing and Boxing Clever.

Copies of his new book will be available from bookshops and at online retailers, such as Amazon.

Have you got a South Norfolk story? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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