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A former SAS operative has revealed he was almost killed when he was slashed across his back during a "gangland warfare" knife attack.
Mark 'Billy' Billingham said he was "very close to bleeding to death" when the blade was dragged through his flesh from the small of his back right up to the top.
He said his back was ripped apart while fighting two brothers from a rival gang on a railway embankment behind his parents' home in Mossley, Birmingham, when he was just 15.
He said as he got the better of one of the attackers by "kicking him in the face" before the other came up from behind and thrust the dagger into the small of his back.
But that was just the beginning of his terrifying ordeal.
Realising he was hurt, the other brother pulled his legs so the blade ripped through the entire length of his back.
"It was like this gangland warfare sort of thing, where we hated each other one minute or fought together against another gang," he told YouTube podcast The Andy Rowe Show.
He added: "It was a really mixed up mess.
"I think I was very close to bleeding to death for that."
Luckily, he survived the attack – and it even inspired him to join the military.
"I think that is when I realised I am going to die – I've got to get away from this now," he said.
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And the ex-Special Forces-turned-Hollywood bodyguard, who has protected the likes of A-list stars such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sir Michael Caine and Tom Cruise, said his life could have turned out very differently if he hadn't been stabbed.
"Friends from that area later on did get stabbed to death, did get shot, did take drug overdoses, so it was the right path to go, but that was a hard lesson to learn and I was lucky – very, very lucky," he said.
"That was definitely the wrong road for any kid coming through life trying to prove themselves as a tough guy. That is definitely not the way to go.
"It was a tough old time, but a very strong point in my life to realise I need to get away from this."
"There were options, but the military was the most… I knew I'd enjoy it."
Billingham spent 27 in the military, including 17 in the SAS. He is also a decorated war hero, having received an MBE for leading the mission in Iraq to rescue a Brit hostage.
He also won the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for capturing an IRA sniper by using himself as bait.
Billingham was one of the highest ranks in the SAS – Warrant Officer Class 1.
Watch the full interview here.
- Brad Pitt
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- Knife Crime
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