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


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.”

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 13:39
Young crew aboard the Tall Ship Stavros Niarchos before setting sail from Millwall Docks

Youngsters from the Isle of Dogs turned ‘sea dog’ on the High Seas for an adventure in a Tall Ship—although the wind seemed to be in the wrong direction.

Yesterday, 12:21
Adesina was stabbed in Padbury Court, Bethnal Green

Stabbed teenager Joel Adesina spent his final hours in a weaponised gang wearing face coverings and fleeing at least one man with a knife, the Old Bailey heard.

Yesterday, 12:00
Ruby Courns and Leah Runens in costume at the party

Graffiti, tattoos, gaming and learning how to DJ were new experiences for teenagers at the Royal London Children’s hospital on Saturday.

Yesterday, 10:40
Two of the award winners... Rohash Shexo and Rabaka Khatun

A Syrian woman now living in London’s East End who escaped the traumas of a refugee camp and the horrors of civil war has won the Creative Art Student of the Year award at her college.

Rohash Shexo, 41 (pictured above, left), is one of 33 students at Tower Hamlets college receiving awards.

Thu, 15:41
Proposal at Isle of Dogs' West India Quay, view looking south-west

Plans for Europe’s tallest apartment tower block have been unveiled today which have been submitted to Tower Hamlets Council in east London.

Thu, 11:37
Haley with the resuscitation equipment used on her by paramedics to bring her back to life and her discharge paper

Hayley Rabin died in the ambulance after a heart attack at home—but miraculously was revived by two paramedics.

Now the 49-year-old former ChildLine volunteer wants to meet her “angels” to thank them for giving her life back.

Thu, 10:16
Bangla music perfomance by Chiranjib Chakraborty

The three-day Bangla Music Festival staged across London has been a sell-out with non-Bengali audiences.

So organisers are now planning bigger events next year.

Wed, 13:57
PR guru... Halima Khatun

Halima Khatun is taking the plunge and setting up a PR consultancy in the heart of east London’s Canary Wharf business district to persuade start-ups and small firms to spice up their public image.

Most read news


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Docklands and East London Advertiser e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder