A FIGHTER known as Britain’s toughest man once beat up a gang of 18 men – and injured them so badly he was the one facing a GBH charge.
Bare-knuckle boxer Lenny McLean earned his infamous reputation after participating in thousands of fights, dabbling in the underworld and acting as a no-nonsense gatekeeper.
He showed why he had such an intimidating reputation as he worked the doorstep of the Barbican club in London’s Smithfield Market.
Let Them Fight: A Comedy History podcast hosts Jacob Trimmer and Tim Groeschel recalled the fateful night a bachelor party of 18 was drinking at the bar and started misbehaving.
The hosts said: ‘They had been drinking all night but suddenly they didn’t like the prices, when the girl behind the bar asked them for £38 – not bad for 18 drinks – they told her to fuck off . ”
The group of guys continued to verbally assault the waitress and soon enough she was in tears.
Lenny then thought it was time for them to leave and said, “OK, you’re all drunk, you’re 18 and you’re very brave. You want to fight, let’s go out…”
As the group headed for the door, they began to arm themselves with whatever came to hand – glasses, bottles, ashtrays – and slipped them into their pockets.
As they walked out, Lenny asked the owner, Dennis McCarthy, if he would help deal with the crowd.
Dennis, however, just replied, “I’ll pay you for this”, and locked the door behind them.
Lenny then got to work taking care of the bachelor party.
He recalled in his autobiography The Guv’nor: “I took a nice little truncheon out of my pocket and went through a lot of it.
“They fell like pins as I slashed left and right like a maniac.”
By the time the police arrived Lenny had knocked nine of them to the ground and the cops arrested everyone they could see.
Five members of the band had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
The rest of the party and Lenny were locked up at Snow Hill nick where the deer started to sober up.
Lenny then started yelling at them through the crack in his cell door.
He shouted, “You gutless bastards! You f**king mugs you are all like little lambs now.
“Look at me. You don’t see me with drink in me: I’m like that all the time – a sober, stone-cold madman!”
A policeman told Lenny he would be prosecuted for GBH, as some of the men in the group had had their jaws broken, while another had five broken ribs.
Unfortunately for Lenny, that’s not what happened.
He was told three weeks later that the charges would be dropped.
Lenny recalled: “They said they got a note from upstairs saying, ‘We don’t think it’s prudent to use public funds to pursue a charge that a man assaulted 18 others . Of course they wouldn’t – it would have looked a little funny in the papers.
Lenny’s reputation began in the East End of London in the 1960s and continued for decades.
He claimed in his autobiography that he had been involved in between 2,000 and 3,000 unlicensed fights.
Later in life he became an actor, earning accolades for playing Barry the Baptist in Guy Ritchie’s gangster comedy film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
He died in 1998 shortly before the film was released.
He previously had a role in ITV customs drama The Knock.