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Charles Bronson is regarded by many as Britain's most dangerous ever prisoner – but there was one hardman even he dared not challenge to a fight.
That was cult hero boxer Paul Sykes – who Bronson greatly admired as they spent 70 years behind bars between them.
Bloodthirsty Sykes caused carnage throughout his life but he died a “shadow of himself” in 2007 aged 60.
READ MORE: Wild life of boozy cult hero boxer – prison to punching sharks 'in the f***ing earhole'
Bronson meanwhile is now 70 and is the UK’s longest-serving prisoner and today he has a public parole hearing to determine his future.
His birth name was Michael Peterson and he was first banged up in 1974 for armed robbery.
Bronson subsequently sparked utter chaos in jails, holding 11 hostages in nine separate sieges.
His victims varied from governors, doctors, lags to his own solicitor.
But one man he had the ultimate respect for was Wakefield’s Paul Sykes, referring to him as a “legend”.
Bronson once wrote: “I first met Sykes in Liverpool in the early 70s and at that time he was probably the fittest con in Britain.
“A notorious hard man from Yorkshire, a fighting man in every sense.
“A lot of people never liked him, even feared him but I respected the man and what he stood for.”
Like his prison buddy Bronson, Sykes had an obsession with brutality – and on the outside he was once a professional boxer and a dreaded debt collector.
“I’m an expert in violence,” he had confessed. “I’ve been at it all my life.”
He spent time in 18 prisons for numerous assaults and he had a reputation for lashing out at police officers.
Sykes himself said: “I’ve had 10 and half years for whacking screws and 10 years for whacking coppers. I’ve never taken a liberty in my life.
“I've belted a few people. In every case I was in the right and it were them that were taken the liberties and I did what John Wayne did, what any sane man would do, punch them right in the f*****g earhole.”
Reformed criminal Ricky Killeen meanwhile has been locked up with some of Britain's toughest men.
He now uses his Behind the Bars TV platform to give people an insight into what prison is actually like.
And despite their fame, in a recent video he said Bronson and Sykes were not men to be looked up to.
He said: “The reason I am mentioning these two together in the same video is because these are the two most notorious or famous prisoners this country has ever seen.
“Everyone knows who Charles Bronson is, he’s that famous and he’s had films made about him, he is worldwide.
“And everyone has heard of Paul Sykes, they have heard about Paul Sykes’ reputation in the prisons and what he used to do.
“Most of his sentences were for beating up either police officers or screws in prison.”
Killeen added: “The reason I am mentioning it is because a lot of people look up to these men, especially Charles Bronson.
“I have met lads in the system that have said ‘oh I want to be the next Charles Bronson’.
“What have these two cons achieved that is so good? Charles Bronson is famous in his own right because of everything he has done but he has spent 48 years in prison.
“What has he got to look at his life and think I have achieved that? All he has achieved is high prisoner status and high notoriety in the public and he has had a film made about him.
“But he has never been out of prison for nearly the last 48 years. So what sort of life is that?
“And Paul Sykes spent 20 odd years in prison, he was an ex-professional boxer, he had that to look back on but he could have went even further.
“He wasted 20 odd years in prison for bashing screws and coppers. He ended up getting out of prison, he was broke, had no money and was living on the streets of Wakefield and he turned into a bum.
“He was getting grief off people in the streets, he was homeless and he ended up dying an alcoholic.”
Concluding, he said: “So why aspire to be like these sorts of prisoners? They are not good role models.”
Bronson is now arguing he is a changed man and should be allowed to live out the rest of his days with freedom.
That decision will be decided by a Parole Board and speaking in a recent Channel 4 documentary, he said: “I’m now anti-crime, anti-violent.
“What the f*** am I still in prison for?”
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- Prison News
- Charles Bronson
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