Category Archives: Checkmate To The King

The Italian American Gangster

Bernardo Provenzano the precursor to the Italian American GangsterThe roots of the Italian American Gangster is of course, Italy. “Checkmate to the King” follows the events and tactics that the Italian police used to take down the leader of the Cosa Nostra, Bernardo Provenzano. 

The capture of Provenzano wasn’t an easy task due to the low profile he kept. He had not been seen publicly since 1963 and avoided all phone communication. His only form of communication with his family and followers was through tiny hand written letters known as pizzinnos. 

Provenzano was known for being one of the least violent leaders of Cosa Nostra. He worked hard to settle rivalries between smaller mafia factions and steered away from high profile attacks on political leaders and high ranking officials. However, he was still charged for his connection to the murders of two prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

In April 2006, Bernardo Provenzano was captured near his home town, Corleone. On July 13, 2016, the former leader of the Cosa Nostra died from complications from bladder cancer. 

The wave of Italian immigration into the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th century saw the Cosa Nostra establish itself as the American Mafia and spread rapidly from the east to west coast. Like the Sicilian mafia, the American Mafia needed a leader.  Many men wanted to be the godfather and they were willing to do anything , regardless of how ruthless it was, in order to reign at the top of their families. 

Here is a list, in no particular ranking, of five of the most impactful godfathers in the history of the American Mafia. 


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