BOXING legend Frank Bruno was in Accrington at the weekend … just days before he was sectioned amid a storm of publicity.
In his final public appearance before he was forced into a mental hospital on Monday evening, the sporting hero appeared at the town's Opium nightclub to meet his fans and do a spot of DJ-ing.
Bruno's visit in the early hours of Saturday came after months of speculation about his mental health following the breakdown of his marriage. And club owner Mick Cookson said it was clear from the moment he arrived that he was unwell.
Explaining that he debated with Bruno whether or not he should go on stage at all, he said: "I know Frank from years ago and he seemed nothing like himself. He didn't seem all with us and it distressed me. He wasn't walking well. He was hunched up and seemed uncomfortable around people. It was like he was just going through the motions. It wasn't fair on Frank or the public to see him like that. The man is a national treasure."
Bruno, 41, who twice fought Mike Tyson, arrived at the nightspot 90 minutes late, but was welcomed with adulation. More than 500 locals then watched him being interviewed on a stage kitted out like a boxing ring.
Promotions manager Brendan Connolly, who conducted the interview, said: "We had concerns about him not turning up but his agents said there would be no problems. It's appalling really that they let him work in that condition. I spent over an hour back at the hotel with him and could tell he was poorly because he wasn't making sense. I was probably the last person to spend a great deal of time with him."
Bruno's appearance was part of a drive by the former WBC heavyweight champion to launch a new career as a DJ. Dressed from head to toe in white, the troubled celebrity played music for 45 minutes before retiring to the VIP room to sign autographs and pose for photographs.