There’s a good reason Sir Thomas Sean Connery was dubbed “Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure” back in 2011. Besides charming the world as James Bond for about twenty years, the guy’s proven through a number of roles that he’s just flat out cool.
Though he’s entertained us on the big screen for about six decades, Connery didn’t always want to be an actor. In fact, he had other aspirations early in life — aspirations that came in handy one night after a tense confrontation in a pool hall…
It was sometime in the early 1950s, and Sean Connery was playing billiards and chatting up a few lovely ladies at a crowded pool hall on Lothian Street in Edinburgh. As the story goes, he was wearing a really nice leather jacket.
What Connery didn’t realize was this pool hall sat squarely in the territory of the Valdor street gang, leather-clad tough guys who didn’t take kindly to new faces schmoozing up women — and wearing nice jackets — on their turf.
Edwardian Teddy Boy
In fact, Connery might’ve reconsidered his interest in billiards and women had he known the Valdor gang, through violence and terror, had earned a reputation as gentlemen you didn’t exactly want to bring home to meet your parents.
Anyhow, one of the Valdor boys walked up to young Connery, grabbed his jacket — which he’d taken off while playing — and threw it on the ground. His message to Connery was clear: get out of here, pretty boy.
A weaker man — or maybe a more sensible one — might’ve withered at this. He might’ve gathered his crumpled jacket from the floor, given a subtle nod to his friends, and run out the front door. Sean Connery did not do this.
Instead, Connery raised his pool cue like a knight might raise a sword. “I’ll give you five seconds to put that back,” Connery said, nodding to his jacket, his knuckles turning white as he clenched his weapon of choice.
Perhaps a tense stare down followed. Perhaps the next few seconds felt like half a century to the Valdor boy, who considered what the repercussions might be if he sunk a fist into the future James Bond’s jaw right there.
Right then, however, the gangster backed down. As he fled the club, thoughts of revenge raced through his mind. There was no possible way, he concluded, someone could come into his pool hall and disrespect him like that.
So the gangster gathered five friends, and a few days later, the group of six men tracked Connery down to the Fountainbridge Palais, a nightclub where Connery worked as a bouncer.
The plan for the gangsters was simple: they would walk up to Connery, pummel him until his face looked like a pizza that’d been dropped off a ten-story building, and then leave. Maybe they’d even get to symbolically swipe his jacket.
But there were a few things that these gangsters didn’t take into account when they hatched their revenge plot. See, while we might know Connery as an actor — an artist — back then, he had other ambitions.
At the age of 18, Sean Connery started training to become a body builder. After two years, he started training with a former gym instructor for the British Army. To fund his ambitions, he took on labor-heavy jobs.
He lugged bottles as a milk man, swam long distances as a life guard, and kept the peace throughout clubs and bars in Scotland as a bouncer. In 1950, strapping young lad that he was, he competed for Scotland in the Mr. Universe contest.
He won third place, but even so, there was no denying Connery’s strength and size. As his good friend and fellow actor Michael Caine said, at this time, Connery looked like a “Scottish Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
It was this absolute monster of a man the Valdor gang approached outside the nightclub. When they made their intentions for a fight clear, Connery, a non-violent guy by all accounts, climbed onto a 15-foot high balcony, hoping to escape.
The Valdor gang pursued, however, and before Connery knew it, he was on a balcony 15-feet up with nowhere to hide. He couldn’t run, so there was just one option left: fight.
And fight he did. At one point, with the powerful calloused hands of a champion weightlifter, Connery grabbed one of the gangsters by the throat and squeezed; with the other hand, he grabbed another by the biceps.
In total control of these two gangsters, he slammed their heads together. The ensuing crack of their skulls colliding probably sounded something like banging two coconuts together.
Nearly 70 years later, we only know a few details from the fight. All surviving eyewitness accounts, however, make the same claim: Sean Connery absolutely annihilated these six gangsters.
When the fighting finished, Sean Connery stood tall over the six leather-clad men. This had an odd effect on the gangsters. So used to their utter dominance of the streets, they couldn’t help but respect the man who’d kicked all of their butts.
Virtual Jerusalem So the Valdor gang, flushed with respect for Connery, offered him a spot within their ranks. He politely declined, but the Valdor gang knew he was someone to be respected.
You might think Sean Connery’s life could not get any wilder than this moment here. But just listen to Actor Michael Caine talking about some of his and Connery’s escapade’s and you’ll see Connery’s life is full of insane adventures.
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