Boxing legend Frank Bruno has backed a Weymouth based mental health project which uses boxing to transform people’s lives.

The former heavyweight champion has praised the innovative scheme which is run by Dorset HealthCare with the support of Weymouth Boxing Club.

The weekly sparring sessions at the Hardwick Street gym use non-contact exercises in the boxing ring as a recovery treatment for both men and women suffering from varying levels of mental illness.

Speaking about the Fight Back group, Frank said: "This is a really impressive scheme which is obviously having a really positive impact on both men and women.

"The non-contact physical side of boxing has so many benefits. I know it gave me focus and structure throughout my career."

Frank, who lost just four of his 45 professional fights during a 14-year career, also likened the scheme to the work done by his own registered charity - the Frank Bruno Foundation.

"Providing young people with structured exercise, advice and support through boxing helps to relieve social, emotional and mental distress that can affect their mental health.

"A fit body leads to a fit mind, and I back any scheme which helps promote this."

The boxing star praised the scheme during his speech at a Dorset HealthCare’s mental health conference where he also spoke about his own experiences living with bipolar disorder.

Fight Back was set up in 2014 by Lewis Chambers and his colleagues Vaughan Fellows and Matthew Rees – all qualified mental health support workers at Dorset HealthCare.

The trio’s work was recently recognised at the NHS Trust’s annual staff Heroes Awards, scooping the ‘Improving Lives’ accolade.

Lewis said: "We have seen people transform their own lives through boxing. The initiative has given some the confidence to get back into work and, in one case, start up their own business.

"It is so rewarding to see people get their lives back on track and regain their self-belief, especially as many never imagined they would do this – let alone through boxing."

Reba, an 18-year-old who suffers with bipolar, has praised the club for helping her get back on her feet.

She said: "I was admitted to a psychiatric ward at my worst and I closed myself off from the outside world for months. I felt so low and depressed I didn’t feel like doing anything.

"Since joining Fight Back, I feel like I’m a different person. It has completely changed my life and given me a new-found freedom and I no longer feel held back because of my mental health."

Frank Bruno also met a group of young people who recently produced a hard-hitting short film entitled #LifeUnfiltered.

The video suggests ways in which young people can improve their mental health and wellbeing, and attracted an incredible 4,300 views on social media in its first 12 hours online.

You can watch #LifeUnfiltered here.