Whether the most recently announced big bank combination thrives or ends up a meal for an even bigger rival depends to some extent on how the tough-talking head of Fleet Financial Group gets along with the affable leader of BankBoston Corp.

Described by those who know him as a "bulldog" who would "tear out your throat if you ask a stupid question," Fleet chairman and chief executive officer Terrence Murray grew up as the hard-driving son of an Irish- American factory worker.

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