Jamie McLean: Lenny McLean’s Son is Keeping His Legacy Alive Till Today

Netflix’s 2016 documentary ‘The Guv’nor’ outlines the life of Leonard John McLean AKA Lenny, infamously known as “the hardest man in Britain.” Lenny donned many hats throughout his life including that of an unlicensed boxer, a bouncer, an actor, and an author. However, what looms prominently over his legacy is the violence that was associated with him. In the documentary, his son, Jamie McLean, traces Lenny’s life while trying to explain and understand his father’s world, his actions, the man that he was behind the public image, and the man that he wanted to be.

Jamie McLean Remembers Lenny as a Loving Father

Jamie McLean, the eldest of Lenny McLean’s two children with his wife Val McLean, spent his childhood with his younger sister in the Hoxton area of the East End of London. Despite his later reputation, Jamie recalls his father as a loving and supportive figure who provided for their family and was never abusive. Lenny and Val married at the ages of 19 and 17, respectively, starting their family at a young age. Jamie reminisced about their apartment in the area, where his parents often hosted parties for their circle of friends.

Jamie recalled moments when he witnessed his father’s bouts of anger firsthand. He remembered an incident from his childhood when another child tried to take Jamie’s bike, and Lenny reacted fiercely by physically confronting the other child’s father. Another significant event was when Lenny, working as a bouncer, was shot in the leg. Jamie, then 11 or 12 years old, from then on found himself staying awake at night, anxiously waiting for his father to return home, unable to sleep until he knew his father was safe. He talked about his father’s life as a bare-knuckle boxer and the notorious reputation that preceded him.

Despite Lenny’s success in the ring, he made it clear to Jamie that this was not a path he wanted his children to follow. Jamie grappled with the stark contrast between the public persona of his father and the private man he knew at home. However, he found solace in witnessing his father’s passion when he started writing his autobiography, ‘The Guv’nor,’ and ventured into the world of acting. One heartfelt memory that Jamie shared was when he reached the age of 20 or 21 and expressed his desire to move out of his parent’s home. Lenny did not want him to move out and told him to rent the place that he had bought for himself and live in Lenny’s house rent-free.

Jamie wanted to exercise his youthful independence and moved out anyway, but he recalled one of the rare moments when he saw tears in his father’s eyes. It was a memory that stayed with him for a long time. He found comfort in the fact that his father was happy with what he was doing when he started working on his autobiography titled ‘The Guv’nor.’ Jamie was happy that his father had found happiness shortly before his death when the latter saw a glimpse of the success that his book and Guy Ritchie’s 1998 film ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,’ which Lenny had starred in, gained acclaim.

Jamie McLean Now Only Boxes Recreationally

Jamie McLean opened up about his understanding of his father’s violent tendencies, attributing them not only to the abuse Lenny suffered as a child but also to other mental health issues, notably OCD. Drawing parallels to his own life, Jamie acknowledged grappling with anger issues and a past charge of Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), for which he ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of Actual Bodily Harm, resulting in a stint in prison. While Jamie does boxing, he emphasizes that it’s solely a recreational sport and exercise, firmly stating his disinterest in pursuing it competitively.

Jamie McLean was deeply committed to sharing his father’s story with the world. In 1997, he took on this role for ‘Bare Fist: The Sport That Wouldn’t Die.’ He further explored his passion for storytelling through acting, appearing in the TV series ‘Happy Hollidays’ as the character Alec Junior. His involvement in the film industry continued with an opportunity in the 2011 action film ‘Offender.’

However, it was when Paul Van Carter approached him to be a part of ‘The Guv’nor’ that Jamie truly took the reins of his father’s story. Not only was the documentary told through his eyes, but he also stepped into the role of producer, ensuring that his father’s legacy was portrayed authentically on screen. In 2017, under the direction of Ron Scalpello, ‘My Name Is Lenny’ came to fruition, with Jamie once again taking on the role of producer. He played an instrumental role in the production, working closely to bring to life the film that his father had always dreamed of seeing realized on the big screen.

Talking about Jamie’s involvement, Ron said, “For us we’re telling stories and we want to communicate with an audience and understand the character, make the story three dimensional and probably get underneath the mythology a little bit. But for Jamie, it’s life and it’s his father and it’s his family and, to be fair to him, he’s been very honest about the things that were virtuous about Lenny and the things that were destructive and borderline nihilistic.” Jamie has been a huge part of the legacy that Lenny’s name is held up to. He stands as a testament to intergenerational struggles and his efforts to change are nothing short of commendable and inspirational.

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