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