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‘PRETTY BOY’ Roy Shaw made a name for himself as a ruthless hardman who you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of.
Reputation was everything in the East End of London and Shaw learned the hard way that the only way to survive was to never back down.
Shaw had the nickname ‘Pretty Boy’ suggested by a Sun journalistCredit: Channel 5
Who was Roy Shaw?
Shaw was born in Stepney, East London, just before the outbreak of World War II and was bullied as a child.
After the death of his father when he was only ten years old, Shaw finally snapped and fought back at the bullies.
“God has given me a gift” he recalls in his autobiography, Pretty Boy, and by 16 he was schoolboy boxing champion, winning his first title at the Royal Albert Hall.
His national service was partly spent in Colchester army prison where he found himself for attacking staff sergeants and partly in a psychiatric hospital before being given a dishonourable discharge.
This began his brushes with the law and he was sent to Borstal for a violent robbery of a bookie.
He escaped there using the Borstal doctor’s car and embarked on a brief boxing career where he was forced to fight under the name Roy West due to his being on the run.
Any hopes of a career in the sport ended when he was rearrested and jailed for a further three years for his attack on the doctor whose car he stole to escape.
How did Roy Shaw die?
Shaw who boxed under the nickname, “Mean Machine”, had been in a home due to his poor health.
He finally passed away in 2012 from heart failure.
Did Roy Shaw fight Lenny McLean?
Roy Shaw had fought in a number of bare-knuckle fights with gypsies and became known as the “unofficial heavyweight champ” and “the hardest man in Britain.”
Lenny McLean, who had got himself the reputation as “the King of the cobbles” and thought himself to be the “Guv’nor” took offense to Shaw’s claim.
This spurred a trilogy of fights between the pair.
In May 1977, Shaw beat McLean by TKO but the “Guv’nor” claimed his gloves had been tampered with and demanded a rematch.
The second fight, in April 1978, which again was held at Cinatra’s Nightclub led to McLean being restrained by four heavies as he seemed to lose the plot.
McLean eventually won the vicious fight as he knocked Shaw through the ropes into the first row of the venue.
The final “straightener” between the pair was at the Rainbow Theatre in North London.
It ended with a McLean victory with him stood on the ropes screaming to the crowds “I am the Guv’nor!”
Did Roy Shaw go to prison?
In 1963, Shaw was part of a gang that robbed a security van in Kent.
He was arrested weeks later and imprisoned for 18 years.
Shaw started his sentence at Wandsworth Prison where he was come across Ronnie Biggs, the train robber, before being moved to Parkhurst.
He has many violent clashes with authorities at the prison and was eventually sent to a psychiatric until at Grendon Underwood.
His uncontrollable temper then led to him being shipped to Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital.
“Pretty Boy” Shaw was to serve at a number of prisons but on his release decided to turn his hand to bare-knuckle boxing which was to see him cross paths with Lenny McLean.