Man So Violent Even Other Prisoners Fear Him

If you’ve already seen the 2008 movie “Bronson”
about Britain’s so called most notorious prisoner, don’t worry, that rather theatrical
piece of cinema didn’t tell you much about the man so there’s much more to see today. You might be thinking that it’s coincidental
that a man with such a reputation has the same name as a former Hollywood tough guy,
but he wasn’t called that at birth – the name was acquired during his bare-knuckle
boxing days. He was actually born Michael Gordon Peterson. Yep, that doesn’t sound quite as fearful. There is a lot of controversy about this man,
regarding whether he should have been in prison for so long or if prison is to blame for his
often crazy behavior. We discuss this and more, in this episode
of the Infographics Show, Britain’s most notorious prisoner (Charles Bronson). As you know, he was born with the name Michael. His birthdate was December 6, 1952. He spent his first few years in Wales and
then moved to Luton, which isn’t too far away from the capital, London. It doesn’t seem that he came from a rough
and tumble background, given that his father ran a Conservative Club for a while and his
aunt and uncle were a mayor and a mayoress. His aunt actually once said this about him,
“As a boy, he was a lovely lad. He was obviously bright and always good with
children. He was gentle and mild-mannered, never a bully;
he would defend the weak.” He might have defended the weak, but it seems
his penchant for violence and crime started early in life. After he moved up north at the age of 13 it
seems that’s when the trouble started. At that age he was charged as a juvenile for
stealing and it’s said he was part of a gang. He didn’t much enjoy school, and soon left
to start working at an early age. His first job came when he moved back down
to Luton. That was a very short two-week stint working
in Tesco supermarket. Apparently, he was fired for attacking his
manager. After this it seems crime became second nature
to young Michael. He got in trouble for criminal damage but
got off with a fine and some probation. He had lots of jobs, mostly related to labor
or factory work, and we are told he enjoyed nothing more than a good night out on the
town, drinking gallons of beer and getting into fist fights with the locals – easy
to do in some areas of the UK. He likely wasn’t short of foes on the mean
streets of Luton. One of his jobs, we are told, was a circus
strongman, so he was likely a hard man to fight. He got in trouble again after crashing a stolen
lorry (truck) into another car, but again got off with just a fine as no one was seriously
hurt. At this point he is still in his teens. Yet again, he got into trouble, this time
aged 19, when he was involved in a smash and grab, which is basically smashing a car into
a shop (store) front and getting as much as you can. Again, he got off with just a fine and a suspended
sentence. Aged 20 perhaps he got his chance to join
what is sometimes called the “straight and narrow” as he met a girl and got married. But apparently, she quite liked his tough
guy persona, his tailored suits and the fact he spoke in a cockney accent. They had a child and called him Michael Jonathan
Peterson. According to the British press, the son is
very private and has never spoken publicly about his notorious dad. So, we can’t tell you much about him. Moving on, now 22, Michael was arrested for
armed robbery and this time the judge came down hard. He got seven years, but prison wasn’t exactly
a place he liked being it seems. During his first stint in prison in Liverpool
he attacked two other prisoners and we are told he wasn’t provoked. That got him time in solitary, something he
would see much more of later. He was then transferred to prison in Hull,
and again had issues with guards and prisoners. They gave him sedatives to calm him down,
which apparently made him very ill. He also spent more time in isolation as he
was said to be a very difficult prisoner. On one occasion when he was out of solitary,
he attacked a prisoner with a glass jug and he was convicted of unlawful wounding. Yet again, he was moved, this time to the
tough Armley jail in Leeds, a foreboding-looking place if ever you’ve seen one. So, there he was, now serving time in what
looks like a medieval castle. Even in 2018, the place is said to be the
place with the highest rate of people taking their own lives and in the press right now
it’s said it’s still very much an unsafe place for both prisoners and staff. Back in the 70s it can’t have been a holiday. But it seems he was too much for Armley, and
he kept moving between a number of prisons, sometimes chained to the floor of the vans
he travelled in. It’s said if not in solitary he would attack
prisoners and guards, and it’s also said he incurred numerous vicious beatings from
the guards after an attack. You might have seen that in the movie, which
depicts these guards having to tackle him in numbers. During one time in solitary, while recovering
from a beating, he got divorced. We imagine this must have been a low point,
but it’s said one thing that kept him going was his solitary workout routine, keeping
him healthy and fearsome. His book, “Solitary Fitness”, which he
wrote after many years inside, has sold millions of copies. Reviews are actually very positive, although
people talk about how strange the book can get at times. Profits from the book, says the media, go
to children’s charities. The British press tells us that his strength
was quite unbelievable. He once bent the cell bars with his own hands,
and it’s said he holds six world records for strength and fitness. Another unofficial record he has set is the
most prison rooftop protests by any British inmate. But right now we are still in the 70s, and
a long way from fame, or infamy. While in prison in London he tried to poison
an inmate and it seems that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough with prison, he was transferred to
a psychiatric facility. But guess who he met there? Two of Britain’s most ruthless gangsters,
The Kray Twins. He called them, “The best two guys I’ve
ever met.” That friendship didn’t last long, though,
as he was moved back to prison. What followed was more solitary, escape attempts,
attacks on prisoners that ended with lifelong scars, more attacks, and finally, when the
authorities were sick and tired, he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He was no longer just a criminal, but mentally
ill. In 1978, he was again in another special facility,
but it seems he didn’t much like being forced to take medication and wasn’t keen on the
fact he was surrounded by some of Britain’s most disturbed people, men who would never
leave the facility because they had done things to people we will not talk about. Yep, he didn’t like some of these terrible
men, and at one point was said to be about 5 seconds away from killing a fellow patient/prisoner
who had taken the life of an innocent child. In his own words, describing the people around
him in the facility, “I witnessed them running into walls, using their heads as rams. I’ve seen them fall unconscious doing this… There was one just kept trying to eat himself,
biting his arms, legs and feet.” He tried to kill another prisoner and then
in 1982 when still in the notorious Broadmoor he led a rooftop protest that lasted three
days and caused around $300,000 worth of damage. Now you can see why this guy became well known
as a hard-to-deal-with prisoner, but there was a lot more to come. He hadn’t even started. He led two more rooftop protests and also
went on a hunger strike, but in some ways he found solace in writing poems, sketching
and creating cartoon strips. He even won awards for his work. It didn’t stop him being violent, though,
just settled him down from time to time. Psychiatrists couldn’t figure him out, and
even though he was in a mental facility he was never properly diagnosed. He once said, “Asylums are crazy places,
with crazy rules. If you’re not mad when you arrive, you are
when you leave.” Again, he was moved from facility to prison,
stabbing inmates, hitting others, more rooftop protests, more isolation, more beatings from
the guards, more medicine, and perhaps his piece de resistance, he once strangled a prison
governor. After that he was not allowed out of isolation
until he finished his sentence. He got out of prison in 1987, and almost immediately
turned to crime. Although his first offense is quite comical. He bought a water pistol and modified it a
bit, after which he forced a man at water pistol-point to drive him to Luton, his favorite
spot, There, he started bareknuckle fighting and earned the nicknmame Charles Bronson. He actually legally changed his name to this. Was this the start of a life on the outside? Not a chance. It’s written that he would fight anyone,
and even challenged the king of bareknuckle fighting Lenny Mclean. It seems Lenny wanted no part of him, or at
least when he agreed to fight it was too late as Bronson was back in prison. In another fight, he was challenged to go
against a large rottweiler. He killed it, and said later in life he really
regretted that. It was cash in hand, though. He was only out of prison months and was back
inside again for armed robbery. We won’t go into details, but he fought
again, attacked prisoners, guards, had more time in solitary, was moved, and moved, and
moved, and occasionally tried to start riots. In 1989, he was attacked himself, stabbed
in the back several times, but he recovered. He wouldn’t tell the police anything about
his attackers. In 1992 he got out, for the grand total of
53 days. He was jailed, but got off. Then he was arrested again for having a shotgun
and conspiracy to rob. It’s gets crazy here, because while on remand
he took a librarian as hostage. While negotiating with police he had three
demands: an inflatable doll, a helicopter, and a cup of tea. Yep, you heard that right. He was given 8-years, despite saying the gun
was to blow off his own head. It wasn’t the first time he had contemplated
taking his own life. He was difficult again, transferred from prisons,
and at times was left naked for many days on end in dark isolation. At one point he was put in the worst spot
in any prison in the UK, something called “The Hannibal Cage.” That had been created for another prisoner
who had once killed inmates and was said to have spooned out one person’s brain and
eaten it. Even though at one point he attacked a governor,
it’s said he got much better after being allowed to interact with handicapped children. He also kept up his cartoon sketching. These were the quiet times. They didn’t last long. He endured more solitary, more moves, and
then in one prison he took two Iraqi hijackers as hostage in his cell. It’s said he was going crazy after losing
his father. It’s also said he told the guards if they
came close he would snap the heads off his hostages. He made his hostages tickle his feet and demanded
they sing songs to him. To them, he was known as ‘The General’. He demanded a plane, machine guns, ammunition…and
a cheese and pickle sandwich. It seems later he just kept asking for ice-cream. In the end, he let the hostages go and another
seven years were added to his sentence. While in great physical shape, it’s said
all the time in darkness in solitary had negative effects on his eyes and his social skills,
and lawyers now started to get on his side. It’s a pity then, that he took one of them
hostage. He let him go quickly, though. But after one civilian worker criticized his
drawings, he took him hostage, too, and then started ripping up parts of the prison. Hmm, what else? Well, after the millennium he got married
again, converted to Islam, changed his name, took another hostage, wrote a book, sketched
a lot, and then changed his name to Charles Arthur “Charlie” Salvador out of respect for
his favorite artist. The movie came out and he became a household
name- until then not many people knew about him. Thousands of people around the world started
to support him, saying even though he had been a bad boy, his incarceration had just
gone on too long. But he just couldn’t stop messing up. In 2014, he attacked another governor. That same year his artwork went up for auction,
and his 200 pieces, often dark in nature, fetched around £30,000 ($38,000). Bronson donated a large part of this to The
Brain Tumour Charity and Keech Hospice in Luton. Bronson said the old him was now dead, and
he was “born again as the artist Salvador.” He created more works, too, donating to other
charities and one time Oxford’s homeless. He also got married to an actress in 2017,
and she is hoping to see him out soon. In total, out of the 44-plus years he has
served, 36 of them have been in solitary confinement – sometimes without light. In 2018, it was said that he is in an open
prison but will have his case reviewed in two years and could get out. That might not happen, though, as he got a
life sentence for one of his kidnappings. That was a teacher in 1999 that he held for
two days. The British media also reports that he allegedly
smothered himself in butter aged 65 and challenged the guards to a fight. We’ll leave you with something he once said,
“I’m a nice guy, but sometimes I lose all my senses and become nasty. That doesn’t make me evil, just confused.” The question we want to ask you is do you
think the authorities did the right thing in this case? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other show
Most Insane Prison Escapes. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.

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