How Legendary Mob Boss John Gotti Lives On

“The street life and all that comes with it is garbage. Believe in yourself and you’ll achieve whatever it is you want to achieve," John Gotti says.

John Gotti and John Gotti.


John Gotti III, that is -- grandson of the legendarily flamboyant former Gambino boss, and son of the former acting boss who renounced his Mafia affiliation. (The John Gotti currently serving eight years for drug dealing and working with former Bonanno associate Gene Borrello to set cars on fire, that John Gotti, the one in the can, is the son of Peter, who is John A. (Junior) Gotti's brother, and is by our calculation a first cousin to the Gotti who's the fighter.)

John Gotti III is a No. 1-ranked mixed martial arts (MMA) welterweight in New York.

Gotti, 27, so far has had four pro fights that have ended in either a first-round KO or a TKO. He was profiled by the Boston Globe, which described him as a potential MMA superstar.

The story notes some unique ways that John J. Gotti, the former boss, lives on.

A roaring lion was among some drawings made by John J. Gotti while in Federal prison. It serves as the logo for "Team Gotti." The lion appears on T-shirts and baseball caps worn by members of “Team Gotti” -- fans of the MMA fighter.

Senior also provided a quote that the grandson has had inked over his right glove: “When I go to war with my enemies, I raise a black flag. I asked for no quarter, I give no quarter. You kill me, or I kill you.” (On his left bicep is another quote. “It is not those who can inflict the most, but those who can suffer the most, who will conquer,” said by Irish Republic hunger striker Terence MacSwiney. )

Gotti III tells the Globe that he barely knew his grandfather, who died in Springfield, Mo., in 2002 at 61.

“I only got to touch him once,” says the grandson, who recalled a special compassionate visit he made with his family when in the third grade.


The Globe also notes that Gotti III is close to his father, who served six years in prison between 1999 and 2005 for racketeering.

When he came home, the two bonded by watching fights together.

“This is a kid that really has something that we’ve always said you can’t teach,” says his father, John Junior, who wore a Team Gotti ballcap and jacket. “He’s got heart.

“This is a kid that’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders and you can see it. John’s always in deep thought. He’s a quiet kid, he stays off by himself, and he doesn’t go out and socialize. He’s never in a bar. He doesn’t drink. Ten weeks out of a fight, he doesn’t date. He doesn’t socialize. He’s just completely focused.”

On June 19, 1992 John Junior Gotti, while still a reputed acting boss, allegedly sent two Gambino associates to kidnap and beat Curtis Sliwa, longtime gadfly Guardian Angels founder, for repeatedly slamming John J. Gotti on his radio talk show around the time the Gambino boss was given a life sentence. The plan to assault Sliwa went off the rails, however, when Joseph (Joey) D’Angelo and Michael Yannotti instead shot Sliwa three times and nearly murdered him.

Such a history would seem to add complexities to the perception around the Gotti name.

But John III says it is in fact more of a blessing than a curse.

“It can be a double-edged sword,” he says. “It depends on what you do with it. I’m doing something positive with my life. So it’s a blessing in that respect.”

The Globe quoted a chorus on the young Gotti’s potential future in the MMA.

“He’s a superstar in the making,” says promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr. “Once in a decade, a fighter like this comes around.

“There’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy in the room. It’s like when Mike Tyson used to fight. It’s that kind of energy,”

Gotti’s lead trainer, Derek Panza, is a former ISKA World Kickboxing champion who believes Gotti can be an MMA champion.

“Why not?” he says. “He’s ferocious, he’s a consummate student, and he’s getting better and better,” says Panza, who along with retired UFC veteran Ryan LaFlare and his older brother Frank serve as Team Gotti coaches.

Gotti played football (running back and linebacker) for St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island. He briefly boxed, and became a bodybuilder before deciding to study kickboxing and become an MMA amateur fighter.

Gotti, who loves Italian food and once weighed 250 pounds, dieted to become an MMA fighter.

“My diet is as strict as can be,” he says. “A piece of grilled chicken, maybe some greens and maybe a little carb like a sweet potato or something. Not very exciting.”


Read the complete profile in the Boston Globe (may require subscription).


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