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Nicole Richie's Man

Strongarms Photog

3/5/2007 11:51 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Nicole Richie's boyfriend doubles as her personal bodyguard -- quick to get violent with anyone who stands in her way.

A heated Joel Madden bulldozed his way through a crowd of paparazzi as he and Nicole Richie tried to sneak out the back door of Mr. Chow Saturday night, sending photogs flying. As Madden approached his waiting ride, the Good Charlotte frontman finally lost his patience and rocked one unlucky photog with an openhanded shot to the chest. As the photog stumbled backwards, Madden and Richie quickly got into the car, and sped off into the night.

The day before this scuffle, chopstick-thin Richie was rushed to the hospital after feeling dizzy on the set of "The Simple Life" -- after 20 hours of filming. She was treated for dehydration and released. Looks like Madden was just being a bit protective of his girl.

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