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“Britain’s Toughest Man” was 20th, had “3,000” fights and was friendly with the Krays

East End hardman Lenny McLean was a notorious brawler and friend of gangsters – and he became a cult figure in Britain, landing roles in TV series and films

Lenny McLean posed shirtless and in a boxing stance.
Lenny McLean was known as Britain’s toughest man

Lenny McLean has earned a reputation as ‘Britain’s toughest man’ – and with good reason.

The 20 stone teaser had thousands of unlicensed boxing matches in his life and befriended the fearsome Kray twins.

There was even a film, aptly named The Guv’nor, made about Lenny’s life from his son Jamie’s point of view.

But who was the tough man from Hoxton who became a notorious thug?

Lenny grew up in the London area in the 1950s when it was one of the most deprived areas in the city.

His father died when Lenny was young and an abusive stepfather took his place.

Aware of what was happening, Lenny’s great-uncle threatened to kill his legal guardian for the abuse he committed.







Lenny became a cult figure throughout his life and is known as Britain’s toughest man
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Picture:

REX/Shutterstock)







Lenny was not allowed to be a licensed boxer due to his violent past, but Frank Warren’s National Boxing Council offered him a chance to fight
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Picture:

HMP prison banter /Youtube)

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It was at this point that Lenny realized the power of brute force.

Eventually, he stumbled into a life of crime as he hooked up with London’s criminal underworld.

Lenny became a nightclub enforcer and was feared around town.

It was during this time that he reportedly met and became friends with the Kray twins.

At the time, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were fearsome gangsters known for their roles in organized crime in London.

Lenny couldn’t escape the law forever and as a teenager he was caught and arrested for petty crimes where he served 18 months in prison.







Lenny’s violent childhood led to his exposure to organized crime
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Picture:

Lenny Mclean – The Guvnor /Youtube)

Upon his release, he lost his first legitimate job after being fired for beating up his boss at a construction site.

This is how Lenny eventually got into bare knuckle fighting, which became his career and how he became known across the country.

His violent past and criminal record prevented him from becoming a licensed boxer.

But when Frank Warren’s National Boxing Council was founded in 1970, it offered underground fighters in Britain the chance to set foot on the ice rink.

Lenny excelled at this, and is said to have weighed 20 stone at times and won more than 3,000 fights.

There’s even a story that says Lenny challenged some of the world’s toughest boxers back then, including the great Muhammad Ali, but nothing ever came of it.







“Britain’s Toughest Man” was 20th, had “3,000” boxing matches and worked with the Krays
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Picture:

THE GUVNOR: With True Crime Writer Lee Wortley/Youtube)

Kelly, Lenny’s daughter, wrote a book about her father called My Father; The Guv’ner.

In it, she recalls her volatile relationship with her father and says doctors think he probably suffered from bipolar disorder.

she said The mirror in 2018: “There were times when I hated him and looked at him like he was a bully.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t even laugh at his jokes.

“We lived in fear of him, but I didn’t understand that he had this condition.

“I wish he were here now so I could help him. I don’t think he enjoyed life.

“He always looked like he had the whole world on his shoulders.”






Lenny McLean and his daughter Kelly

Kelly added that if Lenny won fights, he would come home with the prize money and throw it all up like it was confetti.

Lenny became a cult figure during his lifetime and received invitations to pursue acting.

He was also asked to be the “fixer” or bodyguard to the EastEnders cast.

Lenny eventually fell into acting after being asked to cast EastEnders.

He starred in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 crime thriller Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, cementing his status as a legendary figure.

While filming Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Lenny contracted lung cancer, which was later diagnosed.

He died shortly thereafter on July 28, 1998, a month before the film’s release.

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