Ever Hear of A Sucker Punch, Also Called A Sucker Shot? Here’s John Martorano’s Take On It

There were always some guys who were known for “sucker shots” or “sucker punches” in the neighborhood. One notorious sucker puncher where I hung around was a guy a little older than us called Yakka.

He was sort of a poor soul.  Always looking and hoping for someone to buy him a drink. He saw me in a fight once, told me about it, and left me alone. But I was always wary of him.

He’d be talking to someone and all of a sudden punch him in the face. Sometimes, before he did it he kissed his right hand and touched the unsuspecting victim’s face, and immediately threw a punch at where he had just touched the face.

When that happened a fight would break out. The first punch was always important for its shock value and giving the assailant the immediate advantage. Usually Yakka’s fights  would not amount to too much since most happened in barrooms and they would be broken up by others nearby.

Reading some of John Martorano’s stories I saw that he was a sucker puncher. The only things different between what Martorano and Yakka would do was he wouldn’t plant a kiss on the other person and he wouldn’t use his fists. He used a gun. Remarkably he did all his sucker shooting against people who weren’t in a position to fight back. It was a one and done. There was no fight afterward because his victims, mostly unarmed, were dead.

Martorano wrote of himself as Bwana Johnny. He apparently thought of himself as some chieftain or boss in Africa. The chapter where he uses that name is when he is involved with some African-Americans. He paints a picture of them unable to act without his presence.

He also writes as the sub-title on his book reads that he was the most feared gangster in the underworld. How could one be feared when his stock in trade is sucker shot killings? I suppose John cold be called the bwana of sucker shot shootings.

There did appear to be one exception to this method of operation. It was when he said Tony Veranis pulled a gun on him but he was faster than Tony. Ah, one could say a mänō ä ˈmänō match. But it turns out such a face to face meeting never happened.

I knew Tony from my neighborhood. I was friendly with him and his brother Ralph. I used  to watch him fight when he was at his prime. He was tough and well-liked.

Martorano would murder Anthony “Tony” Veranis in April 1966. Martorano told a story of a one-on-one gun fight when he testified during the trial of FBI Agent John Connolly, He said Veranis was bragging about beating up his brother Jimmy. He went to see him. Tony pulled a gun on me in an after-hours joint in Roxbury.  As he reached for his gun, I shot him. “Tony was another guy I was faster than.”

In his book he wrote he was at an after hour joint when “a short, wiry young guy suddenly got in Johnny’s face and began yelling at him.” Martorano is about 5’6” tall, Tony was over 5’10”. Martorno wrote Tony said: “I had a beef with your friend. I kicked him outta Southie with his tail between his legs.” He then issued an expletive at Martorano and “then reached for his gun but Johnny beat him to it with his .38. Taller than Veranis, he fired down into the ex-boxer’s skull.”

Why the lies?

He no longer went looking for him but Tony approached him.  He makes himself taller. He changed his brother to a friend. He lies because the whole story except the murder is a lie.

The Metropolitan Police Department said Tony’s body was “battered.” Other police said: “he had been pistol whipped and shot in the head.” The medical examiner said: “This was a real professional job. There is no doubt that this man was killed by a gun carefully aimed and after he had been savagely pistol-whipped about the head.” The medical examiner continued saying that the bullet was found at the base of the skull. He said he “was shot with a .38 special apparently while on his knees.”    

The truth most likely was that Tony was grabbed by Martorano and others while at the night club. It was because he had beat up Jimmy Martorano. They held him while he was battered and then pistol whipped. They forced him to his knees and a bullet was put in his head .

Martorano was not a stranger to pistol-whipping people. He tells of the time when he and the Campbell brothers met Nelson Padron. He wrote: “Johnnny pulled back Padron’s coat, grabbed the revolver out of his belt, and began pistol-whipping him with it.. . . When Johnny finally tired of beating Padron and told him to screw, Padron bolted for his car.  . . .”

The false story doesn’t wash. John Martorano was protecting those with him. It could have been that Jimmy put the bullet in Tony’s head to revenge his beating. John taking responsibility cost him nothing. It was just another murder among his many he got a Christmas gift on from the prosecutors.

Perhaps, though, telling it like this gives him some idea that not all his killings were sucker shot murders. But in truth, John was the Yakka of the underworld.


  1. JOHNNY DID IT !!!!!!!!

  2. Flatly stated : If Johnny is a guy’s brother you had better not beat the guy . Cuz’ Johnny will kill you for it . One way or the other .

  3. There is a book about Buddy McLean just published by a personable Everett native with Somerville roots , a Mr. Leavitt . Buddy, as the author includes in the Title, and reinforces with good examples was both …loved and feared . He was also a highly capable street fighter with a well documented history of accomplishment in that arena. This is not the dubious heroism of Matt’s shadowy barroom characters . Buddy was good with his hands . He was also a murderer.

    Nobody will play devil’s advocate if the devil is advocating . Johnny Martorano’s qualifications as a rootin’ tootin’ street fighter and Mafia killer are the stuff of nonsense . Johnny Martorano is … Johnny Martorano . He could give a flying fuck what type of assassin you think he is or who he did or did not give a break to or who he did up ugly or just did . You get Johnny and you get Jimmy . Just like you get Frank and you get Smiling Jack . Tony Veranis, by all accounts, particularly Bill’s very cogent ones, was a great guy . He was around killers . He got killed .

  4. Just a nit I want to pick: “mano a mano” is an oft used prhase to indicate “man to man”. Veranis was the only man in the incident. What the phrase means is “hand-to-hand”. The cowardly killer Martotano “hand-to-hand?. Never.

  5. Matt :

    They may need to take a closer look .

  6. Deeds transcend Words .

    When are you going to fucking learn that Matt .


  7. Stop mailing in this nonsense . You were not there for Veranis ; Your spinchter would tighten if Johnny ever came up on you back in the barrooms of fistic fury and Connolly don’t kiss me there Yakka glory . GROW UP .

  8. Matt:

    At least Howie has an excuse . What’s yours ?

  9. People who think the FBI helped Trump are re writing history. They bagged the case for Hillary. She was grossly negligent in handling classified material. Yet they changed the language to extremely careless to fool the public and let her off the hook. Strozk, Page et al had great animus for Trump. Read their text messages. The entire Deep State was against him. McCabe was on Hillary’s payroll ( $700 thousand for his wife). Comey’s family participated in that absurd woman’s march. The FISA warrants were falsely obtained based the bogus Steele dossier. Comey told Trump the document was unverified yet they still based their warrant application on it. Nellie Orr was on the Clinton payroll. After three years of investigation there is no Russian Collusion. It was a complete fake. It was a hoax similar to the Smollet fake hate crime. 2. Whitey killed Mullins gang members who were trying to kill him. Connolly had nothing to do with that gang war. So stop the smears against Connolly and Rico who were framed based on Martorano’s and Flemmi’s lies with an assist from corrupt DOJ types who withheld exculpatory evidence. A routine practice of Federal prosecutors. See Powell’s book License to Lie. Remember Walter Duranty when you read the fake news in the NYT and Globe.

    • NC:

      Nice try. Were the FBI investigating Russian’s interference with the election on behalf of Trump? Yes.
      Did the FBI make that public. No
      Did the FBI make public it was reopening the email investigation against Clinton. Ye
      Did these actions favor Clinton or Trump? Trump
      Did Russia interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Yes.

      Weren’t Connolly and Rico FBI agents? Weren’t they part of the FBI office you believe worked with the DOJ that was corrupt? Was Connolly a smart guy or a dunce. Didn’t Connolly see any connection between the murder of Halloran and Donohue after he told Whitey that Halloran was informing on him. Why was it Connolly closed out two requests from Oklahoma for information on Bulger and Flemmi without doing anything How can you put any onus on the DOJ when Connolly kept all these matters to himself.

  10. Matt :

    A nasty bunch .