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Facts about Charles Bronson aka Michael Peterson. This is Britain's most notorious inmate & one of the most dangerous people in prison.
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Number 9 Real Name
The man known to the world first as Charles Bronson and more recently as Charles Salvador was actually born Michael Peterson on December 6, 1952. He had two brothers and reportedly grew up in a stable home with loving parents. According to those who knew him growing up, he didn’t initially show an inclination towards violence. His aunt actually described him as a ‘gentle and mild-mannered boy claiming that he would often defend those who were bullied. All that was soon to change.
Number 8 Early Crimes
By age 13, Bronson got involved with crime and started to develop a taste for fighting. He was first put on probation for smashing some parked cars after getting into an argument with his girlfriend. Later, he once again would face jail time for crashing a stolen lorry into a car. Bronson ran 90 miles away from the scene to his parents’ house, where he was apprehended. The car driver survived the crash, so Bronson only received fines and probation. At 19, he was convicted for his part in a smash and grab, but the judge gave him one more chance to change his ways with a suspended sentence.
Number 7 Prison Violence
A quote from one of the books written by Bronson in prison reads ‘I fear no one. Violence just makes me madder and stronger.’ As time went by, Bronson would rack up years added to his sentence because of numerous instances of violence against prison staff and other inmates. Bronson was considered so dangerous that he’s spent most of his sentence, which now spans over four decades, in solitary confinement. Some highlights of his prison antics include damaging property, taking hostages, roof protests and basically starting one-man riots.
Number 6 Alleged Mental Illness
After he’d attempted suicide and attacked another prison officer, Bronson was sanctioned under the Mental Health Act and transferred to Broadmoor, a high-security prison for those considered criminally insane. Bronson was unable to adapt to life among the highly disturbed and highly dangerous inmates. He was forced to take medication that reportedly gave him horrible muscular spasms and was frequently beaten by prison staff. He witnessed prisoners run head-first against walls as well as cut and stab themselves with needles, pens or scissors.
Number 5 Rooftop Protests
Bronson once claimed ‘I’ve been on more roofs than Santa Claus’. He staged his first rooftop protest during his time at Broadmoor, in 1982. Bronson made his way through a window of the prison’s Norfolk Care Unit and climbed a drain pipe to the roof where he started tearing off tiles. He would reach the roof two more times whilst in Broadmoor. In the second incident he caused damage of approximately 250,000 pounds and in the third he demanded to be transferred from the prison.
Number 4 Hostage Taking
Bronson was known for taking hostages and terrorizing them while making outrageous demands from law enforcement. Throughout his imprisonment he took more than 11 people hostage and his victims included fellow inmates as well as prison governors and staff. Among the most notable hostage situations that Bronson created was an incident in 1996. Bronson took two Iraqi hijackers and a third prisoner hostage in a cell.
Number 3 Prize-fighting Career
After he was first put in prison in 1974, Bronson was released once in 1987, which lasted 69 days, and again in 1992, which lasted 53 days. Each time Bronson found his way back in the prison system via different robbery charges. After his release in 1987, Bronson had a short-lived career as an underground prize-fighter. 1987 was the year he took the name ‘Charles Bronson’ inspired by the actor, even though he’d never seen any of his movies.
Number 2 Physical Strength
Bronson’s immense physical strength was one of the major reasons why he was so hard to contain. His physical prowess came from a ruthless fitness regimen that would involve him doing thousands of pushups and sit-ups each day. He released a book called ‘Solitary Fitness’ in which he explained how one can become incredibly fit and strong without the use of any equipment. Bronson held many prison fitness records.
Number 1 Bronson the Artist
All the years spent in solitary not only enabled Bronson to develop his body but also his creativity. He earned a reputation as an ‘outsider artist’ winning 11 Koestler Trust Awards for his poetry and art. His only self-penned book was entitled ‘Loonyology: In My Own Words’. One of his artworks was controversially displayed on the London Underground, before being removed by an unknown party. Often, Bronson would donate the money he earned from selling his works to various charities.