Benny Lynch and Johnny Ramensky were lads from the Gorbals who grew became legends in Glasgow and far beyond – one as a boxer the other as a safe cracker. Paul Moore will be presenting his new play about them, Punch, with Johnny, as part of Army@TheFringe. In this blog he explains his fascination with the issues behind their fame and what makes a hero.
The stuff that legends are made of …
But what really was the “stuff” going on in the minds of a boxing superstar, Benny Lynch and the consummate career criminal/safe blower turned war hero, Johnny Ramensky? Rumour and reputation would follow these two Gorbals lads, rising from the squalor of Gorbals slums to land a slam dunk punch right on the forehead of its hungry audience.
Put together in an imaginary meeting, “Punch, with Johnny” examines the stereotype, dissecting the mindset and the myths of hero and its hypotheses and hypocrisies. Benny Lynch – a sporting superstar, who sported his own demons in the drink. Ravaged by alcohol, dead at 33. Did a blow to the head, “change” this man, his life a Jekyll & Hyde bout? He beat his opponents, always. Did he beat his wife? What was his real fight?
Johnny Ramensky, incarcerated for 40+ of his 67 years. A Harry Houdini, escaping from one prison five times! A Robin Hood, SAS fighter and Green Beret … but ultimately a thief. Unable to maintain his own freedom, yet celebrated for cracking open Nazi war chests and safes? Known as “Gentle Johnny” – are we to celebrate a man who only stole from those better off than him?
This psycho drama marries both men in the ceremony of cult, conspiracy theory and conscience. Premiering at Army@TheFringe, it’s a snapshot of the full production, touring 2022/23, introducing key characters ie their wives and their lives, also. Taking you from the streets of the Gorbals to the bloody battlefields of the second world war, into the ring where blows are struck and ignited. “It’s a sad man that lives his dreams through another man’s nightmares”. (Punch, with Johnny ©2021)
Benny Lynch and Johnny Ramensky had their dreams … was the reality, a true nightmare?
For tickets see https://www.armyatthefringe.org