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Back in 1960, The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones before the newlyweds moved into rooms at Kensington Palace. The residence has famously been home to the Royal Family since the 17th century with future Kings Prince William and Prince George currently living there. Due to the high profile occupants, the palace has strong security to this day, with a police box and barriers by the main entrance.
During the early 1960s, one of Princess Margaret’s Kensington Palace guards was champion London boxer, wrestler and film stuntman Chick ‘Cocky’ Knight.
The 20 stone bear of a man had been a doorman for nightclubs in Soho during the 1950s and famously knocked out four thugs with knives outside one.
Now in his late fifties, Chick worked in one of the police boxes at The Bayswater Road end of the royal residence’s grounds.
One evening he noticed a young policeman getting a terrible beating from two men.
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The old boxer didn’t hesitate and went straight over where he took on the thugs and laid the pair of them out.
Chick received a personal thanks and was presented with a police cape, a dark blue Macintosh overcoat, which he wore while on duty protecting Princess Margaret.
A quiet and gentle giant when out of the ring, he surprised his friends in the pub in Barnes where her lived wearing it one day and shared his story.
His great-nephew Andy Scott, the author of a new biography called London’s Loveable Villain, admitted: “Nobody knew how Chick got that job at Kensington Palace, but there are quite a few dots that I’ve left for the readers to try and put together themselves as to the possible links between him and the Royals.”
Whatever the case, it’s certainly possible that Princess Margaret came across Chick when a bouncer at the London clubs like The Lyceum she attended with Armstrong-Jones.
Aside from these incidents, Chick was a triple lifesaver. His first was in 1924 Gibraltar where he saved a fellow soldier from drowning in Catalan Bay.
While he saved two other people at the same time at Hammersmith Bridge on June 15th 1930.
The author spoke with Chick’s daughter Iris who said her father was probably walking home drunk from the pub and jumped in the River Thames to avoid the police.
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But Scott discovered from his research that this wasn’t the case. A nine-year-old girl called Dorothy May Foulger had fallen in the Thames and another man called Charles H Dennett had gone into the water to help but was at risk of drowning himself.
So just like the Kensington Palace incident, Chick – who was an extremely strong swimmer – didn’t hesitate, dived in and saved both of them.
The boxer received a certificate of bravery from the Royal Humane Society following the rescue.
While Dorthy went on to have three children and the author managed to speak to the younger son Ted, who pointed out that Chick didn’t just save his mother’s life but also his and his two siblings.
The author has since started a petition to the Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham to get his great uncle Chick a plaque on Hammersmith Bridge in recognition of his bravery, which you can sign here.
Aside from boxing, wrestling, lifesaving and bodyguarding Princess Margaret, Chick was a friend to many celebrities including fellow champ Len Harvey, singer Josef Locke, comedian Ben Warriss and film star George Formy.
While he shared a love of boxing and fine cigars with his pal Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s last hangman and executioner.
London’s Loveable Villain: The True Life Story of Chick ‘Cocky’ Knight’s Colourful Life is out now and can be purchased here.
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