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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
George Francis found dead
George Francis
George Francis guided Frank Bruno to a world title
Legendary boxing trainer George Francis has died at his home in London.

The 73-year-old, who guided both Frank Bruno and John Conteh to world titles, was found hanged.

Francis also trained other world champions such as John Mugabi and Cornelius Boza Edwards.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Boxing Commentator John Rawling said some of boxing's biggest names had paid tribute to Francis.


I owe him a lot for helping to make me a world champion
Frank Bruno
Conteh said Francis was his "mentor", while fellow trainer Mickey Duff paid tribute to Francis' teaching skills and his ability to bring fighters into peak physical condition.

Police said Francis' body had been found on Thursday, but the post mortem had not been conducted until Monday.

Difficult times had fallen upon Francis recently with the deaths of both his wife Joan, and son Simon from cancer.

Francis' involvement in boxing began as a bare-knuckle street-fighter in the slums of 1930s Camden Town.

He left school at the age of 11 and spent time in Wormwood Scrubs before reaching London's boxing gyms, where he fought as an amateur before discovering his true vocation.

Shaped by tough upbringing, Francis was a colourful but determined character, and he juggled his early training work with his day job as a porter in Covent Garden Market.

He also demanded much from his charges.

Crowning glory

Bruno wrote in his 1996 autobiography 'From Zero to Hero': "He toughened my training routine, taking me on exhausting runs across Hampstead Heath which ended with brisk swims in the icy waters of Highgate Pond.

"Before George got hold of me, I was too stiff and rigid. But he taught me to relax. I owe him a lot for helping to make me a world champion."

Francis' first major success came when he helped Conteh become world light-heavyweight champion in 1974.

But it was his partnership with Bruno that cemented his place in British boxing history.

Bruno and Francis first teamed up after the boxer lost his first shot at the world title to Tim Witherspoon in July 1986.

Nine years later the pair experienced their crowning glory when the British heavyweight beat Oliver McCall to finally win a version of the world title.

An inquest into Francis' death, held at St Pancras Coroners Court on Tuesday, was adjourned and a new date has yet to be set.

The post mortem found the cause of death to be hanging.

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