I Said to Ronnie Kray, If We Have a Row Then I'm Gonna Hurt You ...Understand? BRITAIN'S OLDEST GAANGSTER REVEALS ALL..AGED 93; EXCLUSIVE

The People (London, England), October 25, 2015 | Go to article overview

I Said to Ronnie Kray, If We Have a Row Then I'm Gonna Hurt You ...Understand? BRITAIN'S OLDEST GAANGSTER REVEALS ALL..AGED 93; EXCLUSIVE


Byline: Tom Pettifor

RONNIE Kray's eyes glowed with menace as he brandished a knitting needle and said: "If you was a man you'd come out with what you got against me."

The psychotic gangster's face was distorted with rage as he clutched the ten-inch spike and closed in on fellow con Bert Rossi in a prison workshop.

Kray and his twin Reggie were terrifying gang bosses. Now he had taken offence at Bert's innocent invitation to watch a film. A film show was highlight of the month for prisoners in HMP Winchester during the winter of 1956.

But crazed Kray, then 22, told Bert: "I know why you want me to come to the cinema on Sunday - you've arranged to put it on me."

Bert will be 93 next week but back then he was also a fearsome gangster.

He leaned forward in his seat as he told the Sunday People about the moment he thought Ronnie Kray was about to stab him with the needle.

He recalled: "This was Ronnie Kray. How can you answer?" Attack But Bert was not an average prisoner.

His nickname was "Battles" Rossi and he was known on his home in London as the General of Clerkenwell.

He was 11 years older than Kray and doing time for his part in a knife attack on self-styled king of the underworld Jack Spot the previous year.

Ronnie held no fears for him. Bert said: "I could see this fella was nuts and I'm watching his hand, because he's got that thing and it's like an ice pick.

"In those days I didn't like anybody pushing me around. Outside, I'd say, 'F*** off.' Inside, I'm thinking 'This could develop into something.' I could see it rising. It could go off.

"So I said, 'Look, Ron, I don't know what you're talking about. But rest assured, if you and I have a row I'm going to f****** hurt you. You understand?'

"I'd had enough and I was ready for him. If he'd moved with his needle, I had one as well. It would have been off.

"Then he went right the other way. He said, 'I class you as a friend.'" The matter blew over and Bert quietly reported Kray to the prison doctor. Years later Ronnie ended his days in Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital.

In the early 60s the Kray twins ruled London's underworld in a reign of terror. Their careers were ended by life sentences for two murders.

Bert's clash with Ronnie, revealed here for the first time, will feature in a planned biography by James Morton.

The life story of Britain's oldest gangster could fill 20 books - from playing dominoes with Hollywood legend Telly Savalas to allegations of criminal corruption at the heart of the Harold Wilson government.

Bert was close to 1950s London crime boss Billy Hill and to New York's Gambino Mafia family, helping the Mob "invade" the UK in the 1960s when they brought casinos to London.

He rubbed shoulders with the Krays and gangsters including Charlie Richardson and Mad Frankie Fraser.

Bert was also a bodyguard for legendary heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano when he came to London.

He was quizzed by police over four murders, including the 1965 killing of Britain's former heavyweight world champion Freddie Mills, but was never charged with any of them.

These days, dressed in an immaculate charcoal suit topped off with matching fedora hat, Bert looks like a retired businessman. …

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