Skip to main content

Guy finds out headbutting bare-knuckle legend was a bad idea

When the referee gave them their instructions in the middle of the ring, ‘The Mad Gypsy’ head-butted McLean full-force in the face.

If you enjoyed this story from The MMA UnderGround, please check out more on:
Boxing
Martial Arts on The Street
How To


Lenny ‘The Guv’nor’ McLean was known as ‘The hardest man in Britain’ during his days as a bare-knuckle fighter, and he demonstrated exactly why during one of his most notorious fights, vs. Brian ‘The Mad Gypsy’ Bradshaw in 1986.

Standing 6' 2” tall and weighing an imposing 280lbs, McLean had made his fearsome reputation fighting in underground, unlicensed, bare-knuckle fights in his native London from the late 1960s through to the ’80s, while also bouncing, debt-collecting, bodyguarding, and operating as an enforcer for gangs.

Guy finds out headbutting bare-knuckle legend was a bad idea

Guy finds out headbutting bare-knuckle legend was a bad idea

His infamy grew after a trilogy of fights with another of London’s most revered bare-knuckle brawlers at the time, Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw; McLean defeated him twice to earn ‘The Guv’nor’ nickname.

It was several years later that McLean would go on to fight Brian ‘The Mad Gypsy’ Bradshaw, an undefeated champion within the traveling community, who had a score to settle with the man heralded as ‘The King Of The Bouncers’.

Due to the publicity surrounding the fight, and concerns that the police might try to shut it down, the fight took place in a boxing ring supervised by a referee, with both men wearing gloves.

However, when the referee gave them their instructions in the middle of the ring before the bout began, ‘The Mad Gypsy’ suddenly head-butted McLean full force in the face.

That proved to be a disastrous error of judgment by Bradshaw, as ‘The Guv’nor’ barely even flinched from the impact of the blow. The bell sounded almost immediately afterwards, and McLean, now fuelled by pure rage, marched forward looking for payback.

’The Guv’nor’s’ first punch was a thunderous right hook that floored Bradshaw, who also narrowly missed an incoming left hand as he crashed to the canvas.

Due to the earlier head-butt, McLean had no intention of allowing ‘The Mad Gypsy’ a ten-count, and instead stamped on his ribs, then grabbed him by the back of his head with his left hand and blasted him with a series of vicious right hands.

Two other men rushed in to help the referee attempt to drag McLean away from the barely conscious Bradshaw, but ‘The Guv’nor’ brushed them aside and brutally soccer-kicked his grounded opponent in the head, which KO’d ‘The Mad Gypsy’ instantly and left him stretched out on the canvas as stiff as a board.

Even that was not enough to satisfy ‘The Guv’nor’s lust for vengeance, however, and he managed to land a further three vicious kicks to his rival’s head before a total of five men finally managed to restrain him enough to save Bradshaw from being sent to an early grave.

Don't feel bad about the headbutts. McLean too used them to excellent effect, as seen here vs. 6' 7", 293lbs sanitation engineer and doorman Man Mountain York.

Over the course of his life, ‘The Guv’nor’ was said to have been in thousands of fights, in addition to having been shot twice, stabbed multiple times, and also spent several years in jail for theft in his youth and grievous bodily harm in the early 90s.

He would then go on to use his notoriety to begin an acting career, leading to a minor part in The Fifth Element and then a bigger role in the Guy Ritchie movie, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

He wrote The Guv'nor, a best-selling autobiography available from Amazon, and there's a popular movie about his life, My Name is Lenny (2017) co-starring UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping. 

Tragically Lenny Mclean died of brain cancer at the age of 49, just weeks before Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels premiered. Director Guy Ritchie dedicated the film to him.

Share your thoughts about Lenny Mclean on The UnderGround Forum.