Glasgow & West Scotland

'I'm from a crime family but I'm no criminal'

Mags Vonral Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Mags Vonral's grandfather was Glasgow gangster Walter Norval

Marguerita Vonral says she grew up on a "rough" Glasgow housing estate but she always knew she was different.

This could be because she was the granddaughter of one of the city's most-feared gangsters, Walter Norval.

Marguerita, who is now 34, admits she comes from a crime family but assures everyone: "I'm not a criminal".

Mags - as she is often known - was brought up in Milton by her mum and two sisters.

She says her "granda" was her father figure.

He was also widely known as Glasgow's original "Godfather".

Image copyright Black and White Publishing
Image caption Walter Norval was a notorious crimelord in Glasgow

Norval started his criminal career at a young age working for Glasgow's top crooks.

Throughout the 60s and 70s he created his own gangster empire, including pubs and clubs, with money he made from protection rackets and later armed robbery.

Unlike other gangsters, he is said to have refused to get involved in drug-dealing.

Norval was jailed for 14 years in 1977.

He died in 2014, aged 85.

Marguerita told the BBC News website: "I missed the crux of the crimewave. I wasn't privy to that.

"I would hear the stories my granda would tell us. It was unusual and I knew that what they did was not right.

"They did develop a set of values, though - loyalty, trust and even teamwork, but maybe just going in the wrong direction.

"Obviously I adopted those strong values too but I used them differently and became a schoolteacher."

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Marguerita says she comes from a crime family, but she is not a criminal: "Somewhere along the way we cleaned our act up."

Mags taught art and she says her strong Glaswegian accent was not the norm.

She said: "I do come from a rough area.

"I once had a boyfriend who said I was just a 'scheme burd'. He meant it as an insult but I'm proud of that.

"I wasn't a regular person who would become a teacher. Even when I went to art college, people were terrified when I opened my mouth."

A personal tragedy caused Mags to stop teaching and pursue a different career - as a fitness model.

Four years ago, her fiance Dave Brown died suddenly, on the way home from his first bodybuilding competition, which he'd won.

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Marguerita opens up about the death of her partner on the show in the hope she can help someone else

Mags said: "We were driving back and we were talking and he was so excited - the happiest I had ever seen him.

"I don't remember the last thing he said. It was mid-sentence and he made a funny noise and went pure red.

"He kept slumping forward. We went to Warrington General Hospital and the doctor came in and she said: 'We tried for 45 minutes and we couldn't bring him back'."

Image copyright Marguerita Norval
Image caption Marguerita Norval competes in bodybuilding competitions all over the world

"When I first came back here I would sit with his clothes and look at his stuff and go through it and feel that pain every day.

"I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep I couldn't go out without a panic attack. I was living back home with my mum."

Mags went back to the gym and threw herself into training. It changed her life.

She said: "I thought if I was physically stronger I would feel mentally stronger too."

In four years she has reached the top of her career. And she has now taken on a new challenge.

Marguerita is the only female contestant in a new three-part TV show called Rogue to Wrestler.

Would-be wrestlers are put through their paces to see who will be strong enough to make it into the ring for real.

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption In charge: Trainers Lee Greig and Adrian McCallum with Insane Championship Wrestling founder Mark Dallas

Insane Championship Wrestling founder Mark Dallas and professional fighters Adrian McCallum (aka Lionheart) and Lee Greig, who wrestles under the name of Jack Jester, conduct the elimination process.

The winner will have the chance to become the next star of the Scottish wrestling scene.

Marguerita enjoyed the wrestling challenge and sees it in her future.

Image copyright BBC Scotland
Image caption Insane Championship Wrestling founder Mark Dallas, centre, and professional fighters Lee Greig (Jester), far left, and Adrian McCallum (Lionheart), far right, get ready to put the contenders in Rogue To Wrestler through their paces

She is about to take up her training again.

She said: "I can see myself trying for WWE - that's the ultimate goal.

"But I want to do it properly. The trainers told me they could send my photo to the WWE training school and they would take me now.

"I look the part but I don't want to just look the part. I want to go in there and fight with the best of them."

Rogue To Wrestler is on the BBC Scotland channel on Tuesday 26 March at 22:00 and nationwide on the BBC iPlayer after broadcast

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