Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Sean Connery Once Took on Six Gang Members – And Won

Photo Credit: Chris Ware / Keystone Features / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chris Ware / Keystone Features / Getty Images

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.

Before fame

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. 

Sean Connery holds up his Oscar while wearing a black suit and bowtie in front of a life sized model of the same statue.
Sean Connery holds up his “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” Oscar for The Untouchables at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, April 11, 1988. (Photo Credit: John Barr/ Liaison/ Getty Images)

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.

Bodybuilding career

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.

Sean Connery looking into the camera while wearing a leather jacket, striped scarf, and knitted hat.
Sean Connery on the set of the film Action of the Tiger, November 1956. (Photo Credit: WATFORD/ Mirrorpix/ Getty Images)

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.

Sean Connery wears a trench coat with the collar popped, winding up a punch for a man standing in front of him.
Sean Connery as James Bond, under attack from an enemy henchman in a scene from the film You Only Live Twice, 1966. (Photo Credit: Stephan C. Archetti/ Keystone Features/ Getty Images)

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.

More from us: 8 Actors Who Turned Down the Chance to Play James Bond

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.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.