(Managing Editor’s Note: Ryan Justason is our newest Feature Writer here on RSR and will be covering the world of the MMA. I, along with the rest of the team welcome him aboard!)
On February 22nd 2006 between the hours of 1:00 am and 2:15am UTC (London, England), seven masked and heavily armed men and another tied up man entered the doors of the Securitas Depot. The tied up man turned out to be Colin Dixon who was the Securitas Depot manager. All fourteen Securitas Depot employees who were there at the time of the robbery were shocked to see their boss tied up as Dixon yelled “Do whatever they want!” “They have my family”. Sure enough the employees complied and it took the seven masked men 40 minutes to escape with the 53,116,760 Euros as they left everyone unharmed and locked up in cages. The 53,116,760 Euros then turned out to be the largest cash robbery in British history. The alleged mastermind behind this robbery is said to be none other than British Mixed Martial Arts tough guy “Lightning” Lee Murray.
Lee Murray was famous in South East London for his notorious street fights in which fellow South East Londoner Mixed Martial Artist Mark “The Beast” Epstein said “I never saw him lose.” As Murray was making his money in street Mixed Martial Arts, he decided to take his street brawling prowess to professional Mixed Martial Arts to make a quick buck. Although Murray did end up going professional, the street brawler in him never seemed to die.
On July 13th 2002, at the after-party for UFC 38 which was the first UFC in the United Kingdom, Lee Murray and his buddies decided to crash the party. A party that was filled with a lot of boozed up Mixed Martial Artists that contained the likes of Pat Miletech, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Soon after a melee ensued with Lee Murray and Tito Ortiz going one on one. Pat Miletech has since described the events of the brawl. “One of Tito Ortiz’s friends jumped on my back as a joke. A buddy of Lee’s thought it was a fight and jumped in,” he tells me. “Then it exploded.” “Lee took off his jacket. Tito did too. Tito threw the first punch and missed. Then Lee flattened him with a five-punch combo.I told him to get the hell outta there.”
Once word was getting around that the British middleweight Lee Murray had knocked out the then UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, Murray was then getting the attention of the bigger shows like the UFC. After Murray’s street brawl with Ortiz, he then racked up two professional mixed martial arts knock outs. These two impressive knock outs then lead to a three fight contract with the UFC. Lightning Lee Murray made his UFC debut at UFC 46 in which he made quick work of Jorge Rivera via triangle armbar in the first round. Sadly for Lee and the $100,000 contract he was sitting on, he would never be fighting in the UFC again due to an altercation that took place on Christmas Day 2003.
On December 25th 2003, Murray was driving with his wife and child when a man hit his Range Rover. Murray then became irate as he was said to “disable” the other man’s vehicle as well as the other man. Once this incident was all sorted out, Murray could no longer compete in the UFC because he was denied a visa to work in the United States. Many who knew Lee Murray as a fighter knew he was tough but they had not known how much of a hot head he was. But if you were to know where Lee grew up and the people he hung out with, many would understand how the professional fighter could snap at any moment.
Lee Murray grew up in the tough area of South East London called the Barnfield Housing Projects. He was the son of a Moroccan man and an English mother. The Barnfield Housing Project area was a ghetto in which young boys would most likely end up running with crews and making the quick buck to survive. Murray was known around his neighborhood for always running away from the cops which caught the attention of future Mixed Martial Artist Mark “The Beast” Epstein. In the mid 90’s Mark Epstein was the leader of the gang “The Barney Boys.” Once the two became friends, Lee Murray became a member of The Barney Boys.
The Barney Boys were a very well known gang in South East London. They were known for their street fights, knife fights and drug sales. The Barney Boys were said to have their hands in anything that could earn them the fast cash. Mark “The Best” Epstein has even admitted shooting a man in the face over 200 kilos of cocaine. Lee Murray was no different in this aspect. Even after The Barney Boys started to fade away, Murray was said to have his hands in a lot of different baskets. This was said to be true even throughout Murray’s career as a professional Mixed Martial Artist.
Although Murray made it the UFC, unless you’re a big name like a Chuck Liddell or a Brock Lesnar, fighters generally don’t make that much money. Which leads many to wonder how Murray was able to afford his beautiful suburban home as well as his Range Rover and Ferrari? How did Murray afford his flashy mink coats and silk shirts? Murray was said to always be looking for a way to fast cash and one of those ways to fast cash was selling drugs. Being as flashy, a notorious drug dealer and loud, Murray often found himself a target.
On September 21st 2005, Lee Murray was hanging out at The Funky Buddha night club when he was approached by two men. Both of these men then attacked Lee with knives as he attempted to fight of the attackers. Lee was able to fight off the attackers while in the process losing his left nipple. Just like any tough guy, this didn’t stop Lee from going out to the same club the week after.
Lee Murray lost his life a total of three times after being stabbed at The Funky Buddha a week after losing his nipple. Murray was at The Funky Buddha attending glamour model Lauren Popes birthday when some familiar faces noticed him. Once being noticed outside the club, a huge brawl broke out. Murray was stabbed several times even yelling at one point “I’m dying”! Murray then ran to a nearby bus stop where he was later picked up by an ambulance. Due to all the blood loss, Murray died and was revived three times. After he was awakened for the third and last time, Murray was said to have motioned for a piece of paper to which he wrote one word “warrior.” Although the warrior was alive, he did need hospital stay to get well. This was said to be the time period when Murray masterminded the plot to commit the largest cash robbery in the history of the United Kingdom.
Four days after, Murray was nowhere to be found until British authorities received wind that he was in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Mark “The Beast” Epstein later clarified that four days after the robbery, Murray was indeed in Amsterdam being protected by a Dutch mafia hitman on his way to Morocco. Murray was on his way to Morocco because he can claim citizenship due to the fact that his father is Moroccan. Soon after arriving in Morocco, Murray bought a $1.5 million Villa in the posh suburb of Souissi. Murray was arrested until it was proven that he was indeed Moroccan. Once proven that Murray was of Moroccan decent, he was released from jail. Murray who was virtually living up his gangster life, thought he was untouchable from any type of British arrest. This remained true although what Murray did not know is that he could be tried for his British crimes through Moroccan court.
Lee Murray was then re-arrested as a result of the British government’s plea to try Lee Murray in Moroccan court. Murray’s attorney has since said that if proven guilty, the most jail time he will serve is 10 years while his accomplices in the United Kingdom have received several life sentences. At 32 years of age, Murray is young and 10 years is not bad if he did in fact commit the robbery. Unlike other inmates, Murray gets special treatment. His cell is something similar to Pauley’s cell from the Goodfellas Murray also gets lots of phone time. Lee is said to be working on his own life story in which Time Warner has bought the rights to. Also Murray continues to train Mixed Martial Arts inside the Moroccan prison walls and if he does get 10 years, 42 is not a bad age to make a post-prison Mixed Martial Arts debut.