‘Britains hardest man’ was KOd twice by 6ft 7in giant – it cost him £1,000s

A legendary bareknuckle boxer known as “the hardest man in Britain” was knocked out twice by a 6ft 7in man mountain.

Lenny McLean is to have participated in more than 3,000 fights during his life, as well as having ties to the criminal underworld.

His persona gave him the nickname as the country's "hardest man" – but even he once met his match.

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Clubland legend Manny Clark – who himself sparred with Lenny – told the Daily Star that his dad George saw his epic bouts against giant Cliff Fields.

“My dad said that Cliff first beat Lenny and the crowd were calling it a lucky punch, so the second fight Cliff stood and let Lenny punch him in the face for 4 rounds.

“Cliff’s face had doubled its size and was covered in blood, and then Cliff threw about six punches and knocked Lenny out.”

He points out that 19.1 stone Cliff was a professional boxer, rather than a bareknuckle brawler like Lenny.

While most people were intimidated by the gangland enforcer, who had in his time knocked around with the Kray twins, Ronnie Biggs and Charles Bronson, Cliff faced Lenny down fearlessly.

Manny recalled: “Lenny was a big man with a big, booming voice…a voice that could shatter most men’s confidence in a split-second."

The Finsbury Park Rainbow fight against Cliff was especially costly for Lenny. He had placed a £15,000 bet on his own success, and the loss led to a London Bankruptcy Court hearing.

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Lenny had gone bankrupt with debts of £8,530 and his bank manager, who reportedly encouraged the bets, lost his job over the scandal.

The brawler's life was full of dramatic ups and downs, such as when he was charged with the manslaughter of Gary Humphries, who had run amok in London’s Hippodrome club – stripping naked and urinating on female clubbers.

Lenny threw Humphries out, and a few hours later he was found dead. But, as Manny points out, Humphries had also been arrested by Metropolitan Police officers after being ejected from the club and it was impossible to determine when his injuries had been inflicted – or by whom.

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Lenny was eventually convicted on the lesser charge of GBH, and served an 18-month prison sentence.

When he was released, he soon returned to working on the doors of London clubs, and Manny recalls an incident that showed how Lenny had a fatherly concern hidden behind his gruff, often fearsome exterior.

“I was standing on the door one night at the Gas Club,” Manny said, “and I told Lenny ‘I’m hungry’.

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“He said ‘Well go and grab something to eat… I’ll be alright here’.

“There was a McDonald’s on the corner of Leicester Square, near the Gas Club, and I walked over there and got myself a burger.

“But when I walked back to the club, Lenny said ‘what are you eating that f*****g s**t for? And he threw it up the wall and said ‘come with me, I’ll get you something better."

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“And we walked around to Wardour Street, and he took me to some bakery thing there, and ordered two cheese and onion baguettes.

“He had one, and he gave me the other one – he paid for it – and said ‘get that down you’."

Lenny then told Manny that he shouldn't be eating things like McDonalds if he was serious about being a boxer.

“He was just a funny character with a dry sense of humour, a real one-off," Manny recalled.


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