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“With his tough-guy Brooklyn accent, dangerous reputation and storytelling charm, it’s easy to think of Sammy "The Bull" as an idealized Hollywood movie gangster come to life. But it’s the other way around.”
— SETH KAUFMAN
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Known by most as “Sammy The Bull”, Salvatore Gravano was born on March 12th, 1945 in Bensonhurst, a Brooklyn neighborhood with a predominantly Italian-American population to Gerry and Kay Gravano, both of whom hailed from Sicily. Gravano fell into crime at an early age. Around the age of ten, his bicycle was stolen by a group of older bullies. A group of mobsters who were watching from a cafe when he confronted the thieves remarked how little Sammy fought “like a bull” while taking on several larger kids at once, earning him the nickname “The Bull”. At the age of 14 he joined the Rampers, a prominent street gang in Bensonhurst.
Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano (born March 12, 1945) is an American gangster who became the underboss of the Gambino crime family. This is his story. Directed by James Carroll.
This week Sammy discusses how the Mafia is similar to Chess. He breaks down the process of having to always be three steps ahead of your opponent. These skills can be applied to real life situations. Sit back and enjoy the latest video!
FRIENDS OF SAMMY
A close childhood friend of John Gotti’s, DeCicco was made underboss in December of 1985 after his involvement in the successful murder plot of the Gambino family’s then boss, Paul Castellano. Days before the murder, Frankie told Sammy: “Sammy, I’ll tell you what. We’ll give [Gotti] a shot. Let him be the boss. We’ll be the power behind the throne. If it don’t work within a year, me and you, we’ll kill him. I’ll become the boss, and you’ll be my underboss, and we’ll run the family right.” Four months after the Paul Castellano hit Frankie was violently killed by a car bomb.
According to Karen, Sammy’s daughter, “Stymie was Joe D’Angelo, my father’s closest friend. Dad said he had met him on the “street.” The two men were so simpatico they even looked alike with their dark brown hair and short stocky builds... They dressed the same, too, in similar sweat suits and sneakers. Stymie owned a bar in Brooklyn called Docks. Dad referred to him as his right-hand man.” “Stymie was gunned down at Tali’s, a bar that my father and Stymie owned together. What should have been a time of celebration was now marred by the loss of his closest friend. The Colombo associate who killed him was drunk and high, and out celebrating the fact he was about to be “made.” Stymie died honorably, protecting the female bartender (who was the widow of a made man in the Genovese family) who was being harassed by the bastard. Everybody in our family was devastated. Stymie was family to us.
Joseph “Old Man” Paruta was one of Gravano's original Bensonhurst crew that he had inherited from Toddo. Sammy got permission and had him made on his death bed. He requested a mercy killing; however, he died of lung cancer before this could happen. Sammy said, “My man of loyalty, of heart and soul, a man of honor, was gone.” “Everybody called Joe the 'Old Man'. He was only about fifteen years older than me but he already had white hair and looked kind of decrepit. He was tough and loyal. Old Man Paruta would kill for me as quick as he would get me a cup of coffee. Over the years, there was nothing I couldn't ask of him.
From being in the Rampers together to Gambino crime family associates, Sammy and Louie Milito were lifelong friends. When Sammy became consigliere in 1986, his old crew was taken over by Louis Vallario. Milito was not pleased with this decision, and made the mistake of telling other crew members that it was he who should have been given the top spot, not Vallario. Gotti wanted Milito killed for being a Castellano Loyalist. Sammy later said, “Louie Milito was a friend of mine, ‘A friend of ours,’ but there came a time when Louie, who had helped me in a few hits, had to be hit himself.