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Life story of former gang agent “could be filmed by Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson”

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A former Liverpool criminal says he is involved in negotiations with Hollywood-based production companies interested in making a film about his life.

Shaun Smith, who grew up in Kirkdale, served time in prison after being tied by police to a handgun.

Mr Smith, 55, started a new life in Warrington after being released from the prison system under license several years ago.

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He bought a gymnasium in the Bewsey area of ​​town and began training a stable of fighters in the dark arts of unarmed boxing.

Mr Smith says he is now involved in late stage negotiations with production companies and agents who wish to dramatize his life story.

He said: “The background to it all was the documentaries with Vice that showed me collecting debts and trying to run the gym. They generated a surprising interest in worldwide and have received millions of views.

“But the real story is how the gym has helped me break with the past and move forward.”

Journalist and author Graham Johnson is Mr Smith’s business partner and led the negotiations.

Johnson said: “The lockdown has delayed this project, but the film and television industry seems to be returning to normalcy. As Shaun said, the background of interest are the two documentaries with Vice ago. a few years, and a Netflix series that I created and produced.

To its credit, The Debt Collector is one of the most successful real-life crime documentaries ever made, watched over 50 million times.

“I think it projected Shaun to a large international audience.

“One of the people who saw it was Dwayne Johnson, who is The Rock. He liked it and asked Vice to acquire the rights.

I don’t have much interest in making movies because they take a long time and there is a lot of uncertainty – I prefer to write books – but then Vice Studios in LA called and we sold them the rights, for sale on the Rock.



LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: Dwayne Johnson attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures'
Dwayne The Rock Johnson
(Image: 2018 Getty Images)

“We spoke with producer Will Fairman in London, who produced The Debt Collector, film and television companies in London and his colleagues in Los Angeles about the script for a film that shows Shaun growing up in Liverpool in the 1980s. and getting involved in serious crime in the 1990s.

“But the key point will be that he turned his back on this world after serving time in prison and finding some form of redemption in a gymnasium.

“The Rock became interested in Shaun’s story because we understand he loves that the gym has become the place where Shaun could put the past behind him and create something new.”

Mr Smith worked for gangs in the 1990s as an executor, then formed his own security firm, which found itself embroiled in the so-called “gate war” when violent criminals fell out with the owners of nightclubs.

Mr Smith said he was forced to arm himself due to death threats, which led to jail time after police tied him to a gun.

Mr Smith said: “The gym is really the key to me. I have a background in boxing and street fighting, and I have been able to use it to help a younger generation of fighters ready to go. try boxing with bare hands.



Shaun Smith in his gym in Warrington.  (Pic Andrew Teebay).
Shaun Smith in his gym in Warrington. (Pic Andrew Teebay).
(Image: LIVERPOOL ECHO)

“My wife and I have organized a series of successful events at BEC Arena in Manchester which have been very successful.

“The gym has also become a bit of a community hub, where locals are free to call in to chat.

“The kettle is still on and Amanda and I are trying to find time to listen to people and their issues.

“We help where we can. Yes, sometimes I can use my past life experiences to give people a glimpse of reality.

“When people are angry and upset, I try to calm things down.”

Mr Johnson said: “Vice also bought the rights to The Cartel, a book I wrote about the organized crime scene in Liverpool several years ago. Vice Ideally the movie or TV series will want it. use because it tells part of Shaun’s life there in a cartel and it shows the context in which he was operating.

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“Much of this is the social history of the city, with drug gangs becoming increasingly powerful over the past decades.

“When I started writing books on organized crime in Liverpool in 2003, it was really a cult audience now its mainstream.”

Mr Johnson was behind two investigative books into how Liverpool criminal John Haase managed to trick authorities into freeing him from prison several months after a 20-year prison sentence for drug offenses.

He said: “Shaun has a great personal history, although unlike many people I have written about, he never sold drugs. I understand that Shaun needed a gun for his life. own protection because he was threatened by dangerous people. “

Mr Smith’s next show will take place at BEC Arena in Manchester on July 31. For more information go here

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