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Stumbled across it in Google, 13yrs old but was quite suprised to see such a honest article on fish eyes. Very interesting reading i thought, kind of sums up what a giant knob hes been for decades.
Sunday 5 November 2000

I've seen Frank Warren in good times and bad times, and in a variety of settings - in the paddock of his lovely Old Tower House in Hertfordshire, in the dressing room of Bethnal Green's York Hall, in the VIP ringside seats at the Royal Albert Hall with Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, in his conservatory at home convalescing after his shooting, in the witness stand of the Old Bailey at Terry Marsh's trial for the shooting, and then, oddest of all, at a charity lunch he invited me to at Mosimann's where I won every single prize in the raffle - no one except me seemed to find this remarkable. I know him as a very affable, laid back, witty conversationalist who is just as happy talking about art or gardening or fine wines as he is about boxing. But I also know that there are other sides to him - glimpsed most clearly at the Old Bailey - which are not so laid back. He is a very determined man, Frank Warren: you don't get to the top in boxing promotion entirely on sweetness and light.

And then of course there are his libel writs, which are a journalistic hazard and a pain. He scatters them as freely as Robert Maxwell used to do, and once took £10,000 from the Daily Mirror for saying he 'rose from the gutter' because he did not like his Mum's nice fourth-floor Islington council flat being described as a gutter. He reckons he's issued more than 40 libel suits so far and won or settled all but one of them. There is a new crop out at present against all the newspapers that claimed Mike Tyson gave him a black eye and three broken ribs when he promoted his Glasgow fight in June. He is suing Alex Salmond of the SNP and promises to 'bury him'; he is suing the BBC for a question Michael Parkinson asked Naseem Hamed on his show about whether he felt Warren had exploited him. He is also - and this is the biggie - suing his former lawyers, because he thinks they were negligent in his case against Don King. This should be fun if it ever gets to court because the lawyers acted for him in more than 100 cases. Warren had been reading their evidence the morning I visited him at his office in Hertford and was distinctly aggrieved by some of their comments. 'Why did they take my money if they thought I was such a dodgy client?' he huffed.

I have a theory about why he is so drawn to litigation. He comes from a milieu - Fifties Islington, when it was still a rough place - where disputes were often settled physically, not in court. His uncle Bobby Warren went to prison for seven years for attacking the gangster Jack Spot - and Frank is still good friends with Uncle Bobby, who sat by his bedside every night in hospital when he was shot by a hitman in 1989. So he doesn't repudiate the colourful characters from his Islington past, but he repudiates their modus operandi. To him, it is a mark of how he far he has come that he can hire teams of pinstriped briefs to settle his disputes.

The first time I ever interviewed him, for the Sunday Express in 1987, I wrote what was virtually a love letter but there was one sentence he didn't like, to the effect that he was in boxing for the money, and he duly zapped off a writ. I rang him up to remonstrate and he kept saying 'No hard feelings, Lynn,' and I had to scream that it was me who was having the hard feelings. He seemed to like this approach and invited me to a boxing match with Bob Geldof to make up. But he is still a land mine when it comes to libel. I asked him this time, jokily, if he'd sue me if I said he had a fight with Mike Tyson and he said, flatly, factually, meaning it: 'Yes.'

Mike Tyson is merely the latest snake in Warren's amazing snakes and ladders career. I can't think of anyone who has had such high highs and low lows, including disasters that would have sunk anyone with less determination. Or less courage. Warren is a high-risk player in a high-risk business - his father was a bookmaker who also gambled, and he seems to have inherited his gambling instincts. It was gambling that first got him into boxing - up till then he'd just been 'ducking and diving' since leaving school at 15 - but he went to watch an unlicensed boxing match because he knew there was a big side bet on, and was shocked by how unfit the boxers seemed to be. So when he ran into one of them a few days later he said it would be a good idea to train next time, and fixed him up with a trainer, and put a bet (rumoured to be £25,000) on his next match, and won.

Then he started running unlicensed boxing matches and, when the British Boxing Board of Control refused to grant him a licence, set up his own rival National Boxing Council till the BBBC caved in. Mickey Duff and the cartel that then ran British boxing tried to squeeze him out, by booking all the dates at all the boxing venues, but he sued them for restraint of trade and won.

By his mid-thirties, when I first met him, he was the very model of a self-made millionaire, living in the Old Tower House, Tewin, with his beautiful ex-model wife Susan and a paddock full of ponies for the children. But he wanted more; it bugged him that boxing still had this hoodlum image; he wanted to be respectable. So in 1987 he went to the City, bought a major shareholding in a public company, and joined Harvey Goldsmith in launching the London Arena, a new Docklands venue. Frank Sinatra and Pavarotti gave concerts there - and Warren still goes misty-eyed talking about the evening he spent with Sinatra, who drank an entire bottle of Jack Daniel's over dinner. But unfortunately the London Arena suffered one insuperable disadvantage - in those days it was about as easy to get to as the Zambezi was for Dr Livingstone. Many would-be concertgoers spent their entire evenings in traffic jams. Thus the project soon needed refinancing and Warren was just going to the City to get it when he was shot.

It happened outside one of his own boxing promotions in Barking on 30 November 1989. He was getting out of his car when a masked gunman darted out of the crowd and shot him twice at close range in the chest then ran away. Warren insisted on giving a press conference within days to say that he was fine - but in fact he had lost half a lung and was still in great pain. I visited him at home during his convalescence and he was still very breathless, but laughing his head off because in my Sunday Express piece I'd quoted him saying: 'Boxing is supposed to be this big heavy Mafia number, but if that's the case why hasn't Mickey Duff shot me?' which of course meant poor Mickey Duff was besieged by hacks. Unfortunately Warren has never been able to say who did shoot him because the man was masked. Terry Marsh, a boxer he once promoted and then sued for libel - the one case he lost - was charged. I went to the trial at the Old Bailey and it was a very odd experience because Warren, the victim, was treated more like the accused. The defence strategy was to say: 'Look, there are all sorts of people who might want to kill Frank Warren for the following reasons' and they were so convincing that by the end you expected to see rows of rival hitmen jostling for a chance to pick him off. In the end, Marsh was acquitted.

Warren claims he was damaged by the trial: 'That bullet cost me £14 million.' Bankers don't like their investments getting shot; they were not disposed to cough up the extra capital Warren needed for the London Arena. So his company collapsed leaving him with personal debts of £14m, and he was disbarred for seven years from being a company director. It was the end of his City dreams and he was forced to go back to boxing promotion to pay off his debts. In 1995 he formed a partnership with Don King, the US boxing promoter, and signed a £50m deal with Sky Television. When Don King faced going to prison for insurance fraud he said Warren could run the business in his absence - though in the event he was acquitted.

But in the autumn of 1997 they fell out - according to Warren, because King altered a contract; according to King, because Warren broke a contract - and suddenly they were snarling at each other through the media. King said Warren was 'a traitor' who had broken their contract, and claimed: 'I brought Frank back from destitution and ill-repute.' Warren said: 'Absolute bullshit. I don't like what he has done and I am going to nail him down and kick him out of the business.' So Don King sued Warren for breach of contract and meanwhile froze all his assets.

The case was due to come to court in early 1999 but Warren settled just beforehand, agreeing to pay King £7.2m. He said he considered it cheap at the price: 'The last 14 months have been a nightmare but now I am free from slavery.' The settlement included dropping their tit-for-tat libel actions and agreeing not to talk about their falling out. King said sweetly: 'I'm very fond of Frank and will continue to be.' Warren will not go that far - but I was surprised at how admiringly he talked of King, telling me: 'He's probably one of the brightest people I've ever met and certainly the most hardworking, astute and fearless when he comes to doing a deal.' Moreover his wife Susan likes King, and he trusts her judgment of people. In fact, King came to visit him the other week which led to rumours that they might be joining up again but Warren says: 'No. I wouldn't get into partnership with anybody again, and I certainly wouldn't with Don King.'

In April this year, Warren was in court again, this time charged with VAT fraud and potentially facing seven years in jail. The case lasted seven weeks and he says every day was a nightmare. 'You're sitting there and the reality dawns on you - your life's in the hands of 12 people you don't know and you're looking across the court at them every day and worrying, "Should I make eye contact?" And if you don't maybe you look shifty. And one day one juror smiles and the next day walks in and doesn't look at you and you think, "What have I done?" And you're trying to second guess this all the time.' In the end, he was acquitted and awarded costs, though his former partner Christopher Roberts went to prison. But he is furious that the case was ever brought against him. 'I was so angry. The guy who was charging the case said, "Oh great fight, mate!" I said, "Great fight? Are you sure? I shouldn't be here." But it was like a day in the office for him.'

And then there was Mike Tyson, and what a headache that turned out to be. In January Frank Warren brought Tyson to England to fight Julius Francis in Manchester. (Francis had no high hopes of the outcome - he sold advertising space on the soles of his boots.) Warren had announced the fight back in December, and went through the normal procedures for admitting a foreign boxer which simply meant giving his name and details to the British Boxing Board of Control, as he had done for all the years he'd been business. All went smoothly till three weeks before the fight, when Trevor Phillips asked in the London Evening Standard why a convicted rapist was being allowed into the country, and suddenly it was a hot political issue.

There was a rumour at the time that Rupert Murdoch (on behalf of Sky Television) phoned Jack Straw to get Tyson allowed into the country but Warren says that's 'absolute crap. Sky backed off bigtime, they didn't want to get involved in all that'. And anyway he'd already got permission, through theBBBC, for Tyson to be admitted, and booked the venue and sold the seats and Sky had already taken £9m in sales of pay-per-view. Naturally, he threatened legal action if the fight was stopped and 'it would have cost them a lot of money in damages. It was all a nonsense.' Frank Warren still feels 'hurt' at some of the press flak he took for importing a convicted rapist. 'Some smartass got up at the press conference and says would I promote a paedophile? And I said "No of course I bloody wouldn't" - and it's true. I mean paedophile is a terrible, disgusting illness. So to say I'm promoting a rapist…'

He runs through his usual arguments about how Tyson has served his time and should be given a chance to rehabilitate - but they sound a bit rusty now and he concludes: 'But certainly one thing I would never be is an apologist for Mike Tyson - I mean I certainly would not try and paint a picture of Mike Tyson being some gentle giant, because he's not.'

Anyway, despite all this media brouhaha (which of course boosted sales of Sky's pay-per-view), Warren was perfectly happy with this first Tyson visit. 'I'll be honest with you, the first time round it was fantastic.' He found Tyson easy, pleasant, charming, and when he said he wanted to go walkabout in Brixton, like Nelson Mandela, like Muhammad Ali, Warren fixed it at two hours' notice, and 10,000 people came out to cheer. He also, at Tyson's request, took him shopping in Bond Street where Tyson bought diamond watches and bracelets to the tune of £400,000. I asked Warren if it was normal for boxers to go on such shopping sprees and he said: 'No! But I think Mike Tyson lives for the moment, he doesn't think of the future. Whatever's there, what takes his fancy, that's what he wants.' Then Tyson went off to Manchester to demolish Francis and collect his £5m purse, and everyone went home happy.

Warren staged another Tyson fight in June, this time in Glasgow. Again, there were cries of outrage, especially from Glasgow Rape Crisis who tried to stop the fight, and also from the SNP, but Warren absorbed the flak and counted the column inches. But this time the problem was Tyson. He kept changing his mind about when he was coming, or even whether he was coming. He failed to show up the day he was supposed to because he'd just heard his best friend had been killed. Finally he did arrive, but according to Warren he was 'just not the same person he was back in January. Oh terrible, moody. All he kept saying was how his friend had been killed. He was a different character, the whole thing was different. The first time round it was a bit of fun. The second time round it wasn't fun. There was just too much negativity.'

Part of the negativity was that, on arrival in London, Tyson was served with writs from the two shops he'd bought jewellery from in January. He said he thought Warren was paying; Warren said he had no reason to think that. Suddenly rumours were flying around that Tyson and Warren had been in some sort of fight - or at any rate that Warren was sporting a black eye and three broken ribs. Warren says that's nonsense - there was no fight, no broken ribs, no black eye, and he is suing every paper that says there was. But obviously something happened, because Warren seemingly disappeared in the week before the fight, and even failed to turn up at the key press conference on the Thursday. He admits: 'It was unusual for me to miss it, but the reason is we were in court that day, in London [about the jewellery case]. At the moment I really cannot speak about what happened, because there is some quite serious litigation going on. But obviously, you know, it wasn't happy families.'

Did he feel physically frightened of Tyson? 'No. I've never been frightened of anybody in my life. I wouldn't let Tyson or anybody intimidate me - it's never happened.' This seems a bit foolish - Tyson is considerably bigger than him. 'Sure he's bigger than me but that's like saying Jack Straw is frightened of Mike Tyson because he's bigger than him - it doesn't work like that.' But, if not frightened, still there are people one doesn't like to be in a room with? 'That's true. But I've been in a room with Mike Tyson. I've been in a car with him, I've spent quite a lot of time with him, and he was OK, he was good as gold. No problems at all.'

So if not Tyson, was the problem his entourage? 'No, this is another fallacy. They're just people who work for him. He's got three trainers, a conditioner, a guy who helps with his bodybuilding, nutritionist, manager, publicist - I mean if he were a rock star you'd think it was the norm. No, the people around him were fine, and the Grosvenor Hotel were really pleased to have them, we had no problems there.'

So we're back to Tyson. The odd thing is that although Warren keeps saying he's not going to be an apologist for Tyson - 'He did what he did' etc - he seems to feel almost sorry for the guy, or at any rate intrigued by him. He says Tyson is probably the most complex person he's ever met. 'He can be very charming, however the mood takes him, and he can be cold as ice. He's had all these problems, some self-inflicted, some not, and he's been ripped off regally by a lot of people. He's got no trust in any human being whatsoever. It's a terrible whole situation, Mike Tyson, and I think you can get too involved - you've got to pull yourself out of it otherwise you start becoming like an amateur psychiatrist or a social worker, and - God forbid! - I've never come across a character like him. But I don't want to be in a situation with him or anyone where he looks out of the window and says, "Look it's night time" and the whole room says, "Yes Mike it's night time" - and you know it's daylight. I don't want to be doing that for anybody. That's when people lose touch with right and wrong and reality.'

Immediately after the fight he said he would not be promoting Tyson again and he is sticking to that. 'I'm no longer interested in being involved - I could have been, but I walked away. Too much hassle.' But it means kissing goodbye to his hopes of staging every fight fan's dream - Tyson versus Lennox Lewis. He says it would probably have been impossible anyway because the two boxers are signed to rival television companies who wouldn't let them fight, but it would be an incredible payday if they ever did - probably more than $50m.

So what is Warren doing now? 'I'm doing what I always do, I work hard but one thing I'm very good at doing is I can generate money. I've always been able to do that since I was a kid.' Much of his business now is in the States, where he has a contract with the television channel Showtime and handles 30-odd American boxers. It would be simpler and less tiring to move to the States but he won't because 'I'm a homeboy. I like England and I want my children to be educated here.' He has two sons at Haileybury, and a younger son and daughter at prep school - he is very keen on giving them what he lacked, an education.

Supposing one of his children wanted to go into boxing? 'I don't want them to go into boxing. I wouldn't want them to be promoters, I wouldn't want them to be managers, and I certainly wouldn't want them to be boxers. I wouldn't wish what I do on my children. I would like them to get their education and then find a job that hopefully is interesting and gives them a lot of satisfaction, rather than hassle.'

Warren told me 10 years ago he'd like to be out of boxing by the time he was 50 - he is 48 now. He sighs: 'I'd like to have been out of it when I was 40, but I don't think it's going to happen. I've got to bash on a bit more now. The VAT thing caused me a lot of grief and the King case - basically I couldn't operate for nearly two years, I was just treading water.' He still loves the actual boxing - he would be watching his shows even if he wasn't promoting them - but he hates all the other stuff. 'If I could turn back the clock I wish I'd stayed on at school, I wish I'd followed what I wanted to do which was art, I wish I'd done something different.'

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I went to the trial at the Old Bailey and it was a very odd experience because Warren, the victim, was treated more like the accused. The defence strategy was to say: 'Look, there are all sorts of people who might want to kill Frank Warren for the following reasons' and they were so convincing that by the end you expected to see rows of rival hitmen jostling for a chance to pick him off. In the end, Marsh was acquitted.

'Look, it's impossible to tell who wanted him dead. We all want him dead.'

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What a tit, suing because he didn't like the term gutter. I dont know how he can be arsed with suing everyone, shit like that just makes you more unhappy and cynical.

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good drop bro...

i think hes quality geezer, he makes absolute g moves, respect...

the friend of tysons that was killed, i think was hommo *no ***** meaning homicide, people say he was the guy who shot 50cent 'hommo shot me, 3 weeks later he got shot down', which is one of the reasons him and 50 had 'beef', when tyson lost alot of his money, 50 bought his house, to add insult to injury...
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