Frank Warren’s been around the block in boxing, promoting superstars including Chris Eubank, Joe Calzaghe, and, most recently, Tyson Fury – but his time in the game hasn’t been without its low points.
Perhaps the most serious moments in a career spanning 40 years involved violence that wasn’t controlled or regulated in a ring. Speaking to Dermot O’Leary on his People, Just People podcast, the hall of fame promoter recalled being shot outside a small-hall show in London.
“I had a show on at Barking [London]. It was only the last minute I went, I wasn’t actually going to go. I went to it, got out the car, heard a bang go off and I thought it was a car backfiring. I looked round and then I see this bloke standing there jiggling around [with a] mask on and his hand was shaking. And I genuinely thought it was a joke, then I heard a click – something must’ve gone wrong.
Next minute I heard another bang, that missed, then another bang and I realised. As I turned away the bullet hit me here [right side of chest]. So it went in there – if I’d been [straight] on it would’ve probably gone through my heart – but it went out. And that was it.”
Warren went on to describe the immediate aftermath, including a dear friend and an ironically named hospital.
“My partner at the time, still a good friend of mine obviously, called John Botros, he jumped on him. He was a barrister, I’m godfather to his children, he’s a real good friend. He just jumped on him – the fella’s got a gun, how brave was he?”
“I just felt all my lungs filling up. You know like gurgling because of the blood in the lungs. And that was it. Next minute I’m in the back of a police van because the ambulance strike was on and they took me to the appropriately named Shooter’s Hill Hospital.”
A 9mm bullet passed through the promoter’s body that day, reportedly missing his heart by an inch. In the wake of it all he lost half a lung and part of his ribs. The man in the balaclava remains unknown.