East End’s ‘Pretty Boy’ knuckle-boxing hard man Roy Shaw dies at 76

17:35 24 July 2012

Roy 'Pretty Boy' Shaw back in the old days... Britain's hardest criminal

Roy 'Pretty Boy' Shaw back in the old days... Britain's hardest criminal


Infamous prizefighter Roy Shaw, one-time Britain’s hardest criminal, has died at the age of 76.

The East End kid-turned-armed robber-turned author was best-known for his bouts with street-fighting legend Lenny McLean.

Yet the kid born in poverty in Stepney in 1936 was more infamously known for his underworld bouts, serving 18 years behind bars for armed robbery in 1963—part of his sentence at Broadmoor for the criminally insane where he got electroconvulsive shock therapy.

He always said: “I hate the system—the system could never beat me.”

But he gave up the bad life when he was released in the 1980s and moved out to Essex.

He said a few years ago: “You can’t continue to be a rascal all your life—you have to settle down.”

His autobiography ‘Pretty Boy’ was a cult hit in later years.

Roy, however, couldn’t keep out of the headlines even in retirement. At 72, he was back before a judge fighting his corner—this time in the High Court in a tussle with a convicted woman fraudster who had transferred £643,000 of his property investment to her own bank account. He won the case and got his nest egg back.

Roy said during the two-month hearing that he had been “taken for a right mug”—something out-of-character for a man who always reckoned he could beat the system.

Bloggers have been adding their tributes to the East End legend who died last week.

K Rod blogged: “Roy Shaw was considered at one point the hardest guy in the country. He gave the system the finger and made anybody drop who crossed his path. He became the number 1 guy in the world of bare knuckle boxing—his rivalry against Lenny Mclean 30 years ago is still talked about to this day.”

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