CAN GER­ARD BUT­LER FILL THE BOOTS OF MCLEAN – THE HARD­EST MAN WHO HAS ‘I went at him f*ck­ing rav­ing

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE -

HIS name was Lenny McLean, pro­nounced “McLeen”, as in the tooth­paste. Call him “McLain” and he’d soon mark your card.

Most peo­ple knew him as The Guv’nor, be­cause that’s what he was. Ac­tor Sylvester Stal­lone called him “The Real Rocky”. En­e­mies, and he made a fair few of those, called him other names — usu­ally through wired-up jaws in a hos­pi­tal bed.

He died as his fame was still grow­ing in July 1998. His book had just been re­leased and was an in­stant best­seller, and bill­boards were changed in trib­ute to him for Guy Richie’s block­buster Lock, Stock and Two Smok­ing Bar­rels, in which he starred.

He was just 49 but had packed sev­eral life­times into those years.

Lenny was ar­guably the hard­est man in the world, fear­ing no-one and noth­ing. But what made him the man he be­came, adored and feared in equal mea­sure?

A son of lov­ing par­ents, his life was turned up­side down when his dad died. Lenny was just six.

Step­fa­ther Jim Ir­win, a vi­cious al­co­holic conman, was to leave a last­ing mark on him, beat­ing Lenny and his broth­ers and sis­ters.

But one night he went too far. Lenny sneaked his thrashed younger brother out of the house and round to his shocked grand­mother. She knew what to do. She sum­moned Lenny’s un­cle Jimmy Spinks, Guv’nor of the manor…

ROLE MODEL

UN­CLE Jim came through the door. He didn’t knock, he ac­tu­ally punched the door open. Jim Ir­win just had time to come out of the sit­ting-room be­fore he was bat­tered, semi-con­scious, back in again.

Now re­mem­ber, Un­cle Jim was twice his age, but Ir­win didn’t stand a chance. As he got to his feet those mas­sive fists put him down again, then out came the cut-throat ra­zor.

Mum pleaded with him to give Ir­win an­other chance. So for her sake he didn’t use the ra­zor, but told him to “F*ck off” there and then or he’d, as Un­cle Jim put it, “end up with a face like mine”.

Now that was a threat be­cause Un­cle Jim’s face had so many knife and ra­zor AF­TER years of false star ts a film based on the life of Lenny McLean is fi­nally on the cards.

300 star Gerar d But­ler is the name in the frame to play the leg­en­dar y all-in “cob­bles” fighter , un­li­censed boxer, King of the Bounc­ers and world's hard­est man

in the movie, which starts pro­duc­tion in Jan­uary.

But But­ler has a big pair of boots to fill — few ever came close to match­ing The Guv'nor in or out of the ring.

The film will be based on Lenny’s best­selling au­to­bi­og­ra­phy which r eveals the fighter’s life fr om his roots in Hox­ton —what was then the r ough­est quar­ter of Lon­don’s East End — his child­hood of vi­cious abuse, his r un-ins with the law and time in­side, and how

he turned his life around with his fists.

To­day, Mid­week Sport prints har d-hit­ting ex­tracts from the book which show just how tough the late

Lenny was, and just how dif­fi­cult But­ler’s job will be to do him jus­tice. scars that it looked like a map of the Un­der­ground.

Ir­win got the mes­sage. That gut­less cow­ard went to pieces and bug­gered off with­out ar­gu­ing.

There was an in­evitabil­ity about Lenny’s drift into crime; petty thefts lead­ing to bolder scams. But it was be­ing caught car­ry­ing a blade that earned him his first taste of life be­hind bars, Stam­ford House ap­proved school.

Not that the place held any fears for the grow­ing Lenny, who soon let the other “pupils” know who was boss.

A big 16-year-old dubbed “The Daddy” had called him a cock­ney poof. Him and his gang found Lenny stretched out on play­ing fields re­lax­ing one day…

LEATHERED IN THE BOL­LOCKS

HE looked down at me and said, “So you’re the tough guy who’s brown­ing all the lit­tle ones in Amby.” I knew who he was be­cause of that “hoots mon” voice, and I never even got up. I just put some leather in his bol­locks while I was still ly­ing on the grass.

Later, Lenny was scrap­ing a liv­ing when a crafty car dealer of­fered him the chance which changed his life for­ever…

THE GUV’NOR IS BORN

I GOT a call say­ing he’d ar­ranged a fight with some gypsy bloke. £500, win­ner takes all.

He was about 6ft and 17 stone — a big bas­tard, hard look­ing and full of him­self. At about that time I weighed in at 16 stone and stood 6ft 2in — twice as hard and bloody hand­some with it.

The gypsy came tear­ing out of his cor­ner like his arse was on fire. I was a bit slow com­ing out, and he swung a curv­ing right at my head. I went through his guard and smashed him full in the face with all I’ve got, and he went down. I couldn’t be­lieve it. I mean, I know what I can do but, f*ck me, I thought a mon­key was go­ing to be harder to earn than this.

Stand in the way of Lenny and it’s more than likely you’d be flat­tened. So it’s no sur­prise en­e­mies re­sorted to guns in their bid to best him. It never worked, but they gave it their best shot. Lenny had his own views about guns: He had no time for them…

FISTS OF FURY

THE bar­rel of a gun doesn’t look much on the films but you try look­ing down one when it’s be­tween your eyes — the f*cker’s like the Black­wall Tun­nel.

Guns I don’t need. My fists are my weapons and if the day ever comes when I need a shooter to get my­self out of bother, I’ll be ready for the knacker’s yard.

In the bareknuckle fight game, Lenny was be­com­ing the man to take on.

Bat­tling gyp­sies were al­ways putting up a new man for the hon­our of get­ting pul­ver­ized by Lenny’s fists.

Re­lat­ing a fa­mous vic­tory on the Ep­som Downs, he ex­plained what it was that made him such a win­ner…

LOVE HATE!

ANIrish­man from the other team slipped over and said, “Would you want to say hello to Paddy be­fore yis start?”

I gave him a look. “Say he-f*ck­ing-llo? ’Scuse me, pal, but I take it you’re jok­ing. In half a minute I’m go­ing to knock seven bells of shit out of your mate, so, no, I don’t want to say hello.”

You’ve got to un­der­stand how I’m graft­ing here. If I have a few words with the guy and he turns out to be sound, it’s go­ing to take the dairy off my feel­ings. When we’re fight­ing, I’ll be think­ing, “He ain’t such a bad bloke, I’ll take it a bit steady,” and that’s no way to think when there’s four large at stake.

No, what I have to do is hate — and I mean re­ally HATE. From the top of my head right down to my an­kles. This man in front of me has in­ter­fered with my wife, he’s in­ter­fered with my kids. Bas­tard!

He fin­ished him in­side three min­utes.

Lenny be­came The Guv’nor af­ter an un­li­censed box­ing bout with Roy “Pretty Boy” Shaw, a man who had beaten him in his first fight with gloves, and for whom he had a lot of re­spect.

Not too much, though…

HIS HARD­EST OP­PO­NENT

I KEPT him go­ing with lefts and rights to the body.

A sur­prised look flick­ered across his face and he went down. He got back up, but now he’s on the de­fen­sive. I’ve got him...I bat­tered him

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