Charity Shop Book Club: Street Fighters
Street Fighters is an anthology of some of the hardest men in Britain’s life stories, with their best rucks thrown in for good measure.
Never in my life has a book brought me such pure, unbridled pleasure; and I can safely say this is true for the two women who overheard me reading an extract about an 18-stone man using a metal traffic bollard as a weapon out loud to my friend on the 18:24 Waterloo train to Windsor last week.
Fighting legions of drug dealers outside northern nightclubs; being thanked by cops for kicking the shit out of weightlifting lags who have been bullying prisoners in Britain’s toughest jails; taking part in bare knuckle fights on Traveller sites; popping people’s eyes out, FIGHTING A CAR; and even being stabbed repeatedly but carrying on throwing punches like a blood-spurting robot - all bases are covered.
One of my favourite anecdotes comes from Billy Cribb. He claims that he was plucked from the fairground fighter circuit and rebranded as the “Tarmac Warrior”, and was soon criss-crossing England’s A-roads fighting for cash and honour in lay-bys and fields.
After one tournament got particularly tasty, he and his manager ran from the police and made for the coast, and soon he was earning serious kudos, cash (and a variety of European delicacies fresh off the lorries) by fighting truckers in the bowels of the cross Channel ferries.
In his own words: “In the winter months, with few tourists and 'normal' people about, the dank cargo decks in the bowels of the ferries became barefist arenas.”
His story doesn’t end there, and after a stint fighting in Gran Canaria, ends up a part of the ultra fighting underground in the US, where he slogged it out against other hardmen in pits that were rapidly being filled with sand.
After seeing a friend die, he opted to take a change of direction, and now works with horses, retrained as a counsellor, writes comedy, and is proud to say he has found happiness as a family man.
Another of the men featured who captured my attention is Brian Cockerill, aka “Stockton’s streetfighting giant”.
He fought a CAR, ripped a traffic bollard from the ground and used it as a weapon, and generally paints himself as the T1000 of the North East of England.
Another thrilling anecdote is when one of the interviewees recalls working as a bouncer and kicking in a troublesome punter until his socks are sopping in BLOOD.
Sort of like when you try to remember the first time you met your best friend, I don’t remember exactly which car boot sale we were at when I got this imagination tingling tome in my hands.
It was only after I had finished reading it I saw the Sunday Sport had at some point mentioned it, which author Julian Davies had proudly included on the sleeve.
Now, like its subjects’ fists, Street Fighters has two massive thumbs-up. One from the UK’s premier tits-n-tales newspaper, and one from us (well from me, as Rob thinks it's all a load of made up bollocks).
Buy the book and relish these incredible (tall) stories for yourself...