Ronnie and Reggie Kray
Ronald and Reginald Kray were born 10 minutes apart, on 24 October 1933, in Hoxton, an East End suburb of London, to Charlie and Violet Kray, who had an older son, also called Charlie.
Father Charlie’s desertion from the army, during WWII, meant he was an infrequent presence in the home, and the Kray twins were raised primarily by their mother, a domineering woman who epitomised the close-knit, “salt of the earth”, Cockney matriarch. The twins were inseparable during these formative years, and remained so into their adult lives.
All three Kray boys took up amateur boxing, and their success extended beyond the ring as well, with the twins developing a reputation for troublemaking, only escaping criminal conviction narrowly on a number of occasions. In March 1952, they were called up for National Service; following their father’s example, they deserted a number of times, and landed in military prison as a result, earning a dishonourable discharge. This criminal record ended any hopes of careers in professional boxing, and the twins parleyed their “hard man” reputations into a criminal enterprise that included racketeering, hijacking, armed robbery and arson. Police were aware of their activities, but their merciless reputations made it impossible for police forces to persuade witnesses to bring evidence against the twins.