About the Author
Lew Yates is a former unlicensed boxer who has also worked as a nightclub bouncer and civil engineer. He lives in Cambridgeshire.
Bernard O’Mahoney is the author of a number of true-crime books, including the bestsellingWILD THING
The Dream Solution
Bonded by Blood
Wannabe in my Gang?
Essex Boys, The New Generation
. He lives in Birmingham.
THE TRUE STORY OF BRITAIN’S RIGHTFUL GUV’NOR
Lew Yates and Bernard O’Mahoney
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licenced or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Epub ISBN: 9781780570754
Copyright © Lew Yates and Bernard O’Mahoney, 2007
All rights reserved
The moral rights of the authors have been asserted
First published in Great Britain in 2007 by
MAINSTREAM PUBLISHING COMPANY
7 Albany Street
Edinburgh EH1 3UG
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any other means without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for insertion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast
This book is a work of non-fiction based on the life, experiences and recollections of Lew Yates. In some cases names of people and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of others. The author has stated to the publishers that, except in this minor respect, the contents of this book are true.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
My late father, Bill, and mother, Gwen
My brother, Jim, and sisters, Jean and Barbara
My first wife, Jean, and my second wife, Margaret
Our children, Glynn, Joanne, Billy, Lewis, Vicky,
Danielle and Sarah-Jane
George Gilbody Snr and family, and all of my friends – too numerous to mention.
You know who you all are!
Thanks to Bill Campbell, Kevin O’Brien and everybody at Mainstream Publishing.
A special thanks to Bernie for the work he put into this book. It was a pleasure working with him.
Thank you to Peter Koster for all of the faith he has shown in me since we first met and the kindness he has bestowed upon me and the children.
Last, but by no means least, a sincere thank you and a ridiculously large reward awaits the person who returns my blue and silver dressing gown that I wore on the night I fought Roy Shaw. It was left in the back of a black taxi on a journey from St Pancras to Camden Town in 2001, and I haven’t seen it since. If you have it or know of its whereabouts, please do get in touch through[email protected]
God bless and thank you all.
Lew ‘Wild Thing’ Yates
MIDDAY, 2 MARCH 2006, ELY, CAMBRIDGESHIRE: I AM STANDING OUTSIDE THE
railway station waiting to meet Lew ‘Wild Thing’ Yates (real name Lewis Martindale), a huge ex-boxer, bouncer and unlicensed fighter with an awesome reputation. A large green four-by-four vehicle sweeps onto the car park. The electric passenger-door window is activated and a voice calls out, ‘Is that you, Bernie?’
Like the man I am greeting, I had once worked as a nightclub doorman in Essex and London. The cycle of violence perpetrated by gangs in clubs and elsewhere has never and will never change or end. A group of young villains will make a name for themselves by committing some sort of diabolical act against another human being. After a brief spell at the top of the heap they will either be imprisoned or taken out by a more powerful gang. The names change, but the story always remains the same.
It’s no different with many of the doormen who are employed to try to control these gangs: they often end up forming gangs, or ‘firms’, themselves. A formidable new bouncer will arrive on the scene, punch his way to the top and ultimately fall in a bloody heap. I know, because I have witnessed the scenario many times, my former business partner Tony Tucker and his two associates Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe being prime examples. One day Tucker was working as a bouncer, driving a second-hand Granada and living in a modest semi-detached three-bedroomed house; the next he and his associates were importing drugs, rampaging around nightclubs and believing they were Mafia Dons. Inevitably they were all found shot dead. Their bullet-riddled bodies were discovered in a Range Rover, which was parked down a deserted farm track. I think the police were more concerned about the vehicle not being taxed and that the deceased driver was disqualified than the fact three drug-dealing thugs had been murdered. The police knew their passing wouldn’t bring about the end of mindless acts of violence being committed in and around nightclubs or the cessation of the drug trade in Essex. Within weeks other hopefuls would replace them, ensuring that the cycle remained unbroken.
Very rarely somebody does manage to rise to the top and, against unbelievable odds, walk away unscathed. Lew Yates is such a man. During my time as a bouncer with Tony Tucker and the firm that became known as the Essex Boys I heard a lot about the legendary big Lew Yates. But I have always associated legends with myths and thought the remarkable stories about him must be either made up or, at the very least, embroidered.
Big Lew, went one of the stories, would put his hands in his pockets and ask the troublemakers to go away or he would knock them out. They would usually be drugged up, pissed or feeling lucky and refuse to leave. Lew would then say, ‘Pick a hand, left or right.’ Seconds after the person had sneered and uttered their choice, they would be lying horizontal on the pavement, having being knocked out by the fist they had been foolish enough to choose. Others would talk about Lew fighting four or five men single-handedly, defeating them and remaining unscathed.
I used to think that no man was capable of such punching power or, even if such a man existed, that somebody would have stopped him with a gun or a knife. These stories just had to be bullshit. I now have to admit, after meeting and researching Lew Yates, I was totally wrong. I have spoken to Lew’s friends, former sparring partners, former colleagues on the door and a few of the people who have been stupid enough to call his bluff. Every one of them had a story to tell that usually included Lew’s ability to end a fight with just one punch. ‘Love him or hate him,’ one villain told me, ‘Lew is one hard bastard. He punched me so hard in the head I started to imagine that the wife was good-looking.’ This man’s wife was with him when he spoke to me, and all I can say is that Lew must have hit him very, very hard indeed. In addition, as I had guessed, Lew has had attempts made on his life, but even when confronted with knives and guns he has displayed remarkable courage.
When I got into Lew’s car and shook his shovel-like hand, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. This man mountain looked extremely dangerous; he oozed violence. He certainly wasn’t the type of guy you would want to upset. But Lew was polite and good humoured, and went out of his way to make me feel welcome.
This contradictory character confused me at first. I was unsure about how I was ever going to portray him. Over the next 12 months, while we wrote this book together, I got to know big Lewie very well. I witnessed the man go through every possible human emotion: rage when he talked about the way people had dragged the sport he loves into the gutter; laughter when he talked about the good times in his life; tears when he spoke about the death of his parents, loved ones that had deceived him and his own failings as a human being. Nothing I witnessed was false. I concluded that there is no one way to describe him. Lew is without doubt an incredibly hard man who fears nobody, but he is also a very decent man who, like us all, has made mistakes. Lew Yates, in my opinion, is the real deal, an all-round genuine guy. This is his life story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed hearing Lew tell me it.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, LEW ‘WILD THING’ YATES
TUESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 1981: I AWOKE AT 8 A.M. AND OPENED THE CURTAINS OF
my ground-floor flat. Forest Gate, which is in London’s East End, looked as dull and depressing as it did any other day. But this was not going to be just another day. Today I had an opportunity to earn more money than I had ever earned in my life. More importantly, today could help me fulfil a lifelong dream. Roy Shaw, prizefighting legend and then reigning Guv’nor, had been interviewed on BBC Radio One and challenged any man to take him on. I had accepted that challenge. A prestige title and a small fortune were going to be the winner’s prize; a bruised and battered body awaited the loser. Shaw, an ex-Broadmoor mental patient, had defeated every fighter that had been put in the ring with him, but I felt no fear. In fact, when my challenge was accepted, I felt excited. I was bursting with confidence; I thought my time had come. I opened my wardrobe and laid my kit out on the bed: one pair of blue and white shorts, one pair of boxing gloves, boots and a blue and silver dressing gown with ‘Lew “Wild Thing” Yates’ emblazoned across the back in red letters. Having carefully laid the kit out, I left my flat and walked briskly around the local streets for approximately a mile and a half. I needed to open my lungs up; it was important that I got them functioning properly before the fight. When I returned home, I made myself breakfast. I then spent the rest of the morning shadow-boxing, lightly punching a bag I had hanging in the lounge and relaxing. That afternoon I packed my kit into a training bag but left my dressing gown on the bed as I did not want it to get creased. Everything about me had to function and look just so for this fight; no detail, however trivial, could be overlooked. The clock on the wall, which I was unable to take my eyes off, appeared to be turning so slowly I thought it had stopped.