I boxed with "UKs hardest man" before joining EastEnders – he was so strong

A former EastEnders actor has revealed what Britain’s hardest bloke was really like with his friends behind closed doors.

Ricky Grover, who played Andy Cotton on BBC’s EastEnders between 2011 and 2012, revealed that despite his reputation, notorious boxer Lenny McLean was a laugh with his friends.

The fearsome brawler gained his notoriety by having had thousands of unlicensed fights, once putting a boxer in a coma and even being pals with the notorious Kray twins.

READ MORE: 'Britain's hardest man' was 20st, had '3,000' fights and was friends with the Krays

Despite his violent reputation, Ricky, 61, said the “King of the Cobbles” was a larger than life character who was a “funny bloke” at heart.

“He was a big lump, he was super strong," he told Matt Legg on his podcast. "His presence was very very intimidating. But on his own, in the right company, where he felt comfortable, he was just a funny bloke. He’d really make you laugh.”

Ricky revealed he and Lenny, who passed away in 1998 at just 49, used to spar together in east London, where they both grew up.

“He was just a really funny character. We used to have some good laughs,” he added.

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He added that every time they’d spar together, Lenny would turn up eating a jacket potato, drinking a mug of tea and smoking a rolled cigarette.

The former EastEnders actor said that people’s perception of the boxer was wrong: “A lot of people said he was a bully, and perhaps in some circumstances he might have been bullish, but I always class a bully as someone who chooses their targets.”

He added that Lenny would often be seen taking on five or six men at a time in a fight.

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“Ten Men Len”, who claimed he weighed more than 20 stone (130 kg) at the peak of his physique, is thought to have had more than 3,000 fights.

He infamously put one opponent, Brian “The Mad Gypsy” Bradshaw, in a coma during an unlicensed boxing match.

And his notoriety included him being an enforcer for the Kray twins as well as a bodyguard for several celebrities, including Boy George and the cast of EastEnders.


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