If you’re from Yorkshire, then you’ve definitely known of either Ronnie Pickering or Paul Sykes. Paul Sykes was from Wakefield and spent much of his life in prison where he was seen as more fearsome than the London brothers the Krays.
“Get Behind Your Door”, a book by Patsy Manning describes life inside with some of Britain’s hardest prisoners. One man he recalls to be more feared than the south London gangsters the Kray twins was Sykes.
Charles Bronson’s book, “Legends”, an A-Z guide of men Bronson thought to be the toughest in Britain mentions Skyes.
Calling him ‘Sykesy’, Bronson describes him as “a legend, born and bred”, writing: “I first met Sykes in Liverpool in the early 70s and at that time he was probably the fittest con in Britain. A hard man from Yorkshire, a fighting man in every sense.
“A lot of people never liked him, perhaps they even feared him but I respected the man for what he stood for”. Bronson divulges an event in HMP Liverpool when Sykes allegedly killed the prison’s cat wore it as a ‘Davey Crockett’ hat.
Sykes turned his talents to many things during his lifetime including being a professional heavyweight boxer. He had success as an amateur in 1973 and during a brief stint of rehabilitation between 1978 and 1980 he fought ten fights as a professional boxer – in the process ending the career of American boxer David Wilson.
Other careers Sykes had in his lifetime were lifeguard, weightlifter, writer, prisoner, and debt collector.
This month saw 15 years since his death on the 15th March 2007. He died in Pinderfields Hospital from pneumonia and liver cirrhosis.
In another book by boxer & author Lenny McLean called The Guv’nor,, Sykes also took on four bouncers in his hometown of Wakefield causing his British title fight to be canceled.
McLean wrote: “A week before the off, Sykes went into a club in Wakefield where he lives, got well p***** and had a ruck with four doormen.
“He did them all but one of them got lucky and put a cut above his eye that took eight stitches to pull together.”