Sean Connery is undoubtedly best known for his role as the super spy James Bond, whom he played in seven movies between 1962 and 1983. However, he might just be more like Agent 007 than we realize. Perhaps Connery was always destined to play Hollywood’s most dangerous spy, as the actor once took on six gang members in Edinburgh – and won.
Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on August 25, 1930, to Euphemia McLean and Joseph Connery. He was raised in the city, getting his first job as a milkman while he was still in school. At the young age of 16, he decided to join the Royal Navy, training in Portsmouth to be part of an anti-aircraft crew. When he graduated he was assigned to serve on HMS Formidable.
By 19, Connery was discharged from the Navy on medical grounds, meaning it was time for him to find a new career. He had a variety of jobs, working as a delivery driver, a lifeguard, a general laborer, and even a coffin polisher. Perhaps his most lucrative career was working as an artist’s model at the Edinburgh College of Art. It was likely due to a hobby that Connery picked up when he was 18 – bodybuilding – that he was so successful at this.
When he was a young man, his primary interest was bodybuilding, something he dedicated himself to completely while he worked this wide array of side jobs so that he could focus on his training. He saw some moderate success with this, being featured in Health & Strength magazine and competing in the Mr. Universe pageant in the early 1950s. In the end, however, he decided that he didn’t want to pursue the career any further as he consistently lost to American contestants.
Although this job was short-lived, his size – both in height and from bodybuilding – was certainly no disadvantage while he worked as bouncer at a few of the popular dance halls in Edinburgh. It was while working at the Palais de Danse that he came into conflict with six members of the infamous Valdor Gang. The gang members, in true Peaky Blinders fashion, had razor blades sewn into their clothes to use as weapons and to stop others from taking their weapons from them.
Connery the bouncer
According to some sources, this wasn’t Connery’s first run-in with the gang, as he’d stopped them from stealing his jacket while at a pool hall on another occasion. This evening, however, it was six against one when the Valdor Gang cornered Connery on a balcony overlooking the dance floor, certainly with sinister intentions. They attacked him and were able to land some hits before he turned the tables on the fight.
He apparently grabbed one man by the throat, another by an arm, and smashed their heads together. The remaining gang members took one look at what he had done and ran away. Needless to say, he was never bothered by one of the Edinburgh gangs again, having established himself as someone not to be messed with.
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Different variations of the story persist, including one which alleges that the gang reached out to Connery a few months after the fight asking him to join their ranks. He, of course, declined. Maybe his performances as James Bond were a little more rooted in experience than we might have expected.