Junior lived in the same neighborhood as I did. I would see him on occasion and talk to him. It’s my recollection we called him Junior but others called him Tony. I was more friendly with his brother Ralph one of the nicest guys I knew. Unfortunately, he died after a fall in October 2019. Although Junior was closer to my age, he was in trouble a lot while Ralph kept to the straight and narrow. Ralph worked hard all his life. He told me how he had retired with pensions from the Boston Housing Authority, the Boston Globe, and Social Security. He did well for himself as a maintenance man.
Junior was about my height, maybe an inch shorter at 5’10” or so. He spent many days at Lyman School, a detention facility for juveniles, early in his life. Like many other juveniles sent there, as you will see, he became a boxer and eventually a criminal. He won many of his early fights. I went to Revere a couple of time to watch him between 1956 and 1958. The most memorable occasion was when Junior won his preliminary fight. We stuck around to see the main event which involved an undefeated heavyweight fighter from Boston named “Sergeant Jackson Brown.”
He was said to be on his way to the heavyweight championship. He was being heavily promoted by his Boston/Revere handlers. He was fighting a nobody. The bell rang for the first round. Within the first minute, Jackson was flat on his back on the canvas. It was obvious he was not getting up. The ref began the count. Suddenly the lights in the facility went out. Except for some emergency lights off to the side the place was in total darkness. When they came back on the management apologized for the outage and said the fight would start again.
A minute or so into the second first round Jackson again was knocked down. He sprawled out on the canvass as the ref again approached to do the count. Again, the lights went out. This time the delay was quite a bit longer than before. Eventually the lights came back on. The apology came telling us about the electricity problems.
We were told the fight would begin again. The bell rang. Jackson for the third time was quickly knocked out and seen lying flat on his back on the mat. This time the lights stayed on. He was counted out as was his future in boxing.
Junior was a tough welterweight. He hit hard, knocking out opponents. But, he also was hit hard. He could take it for a while. Then, he was knocked out and ended up in a coma in 1958 in Boston City Hospital. He could not box for a while after that.
He got into trouble in 1959 at age 21 when he held up a cab driver. He was sentenced to 2 ½ to 3 years in prison. He decided to fight again but the hits again caused him to black out. Not being able to fight sent him into a depression. He started to drink heavily and ended up back in prison. Shortly after he was released, he ran into Jimmy Martorano, others say it was a friend of John Martorano from Joe Barboza’s gang. They had some type of dispute which ended up in a fight. Junior gave him a beating
John Martorano would murder him in April 1966 telling a fable about being in a one-on-one gun fight when he testified during the trial of FBI Agent John Connolly. He said Junior was bragging about beating up his brother Jimmy so he wanted to go and confront him. This is reminiscent of the Margaret Sylvester knifing. John testified he ran into Tony at an after-hours joint in Roxbury. He claimed that Tony pulled a gun on him but as Tony reached for his gun, he shot him. He said that Tony was another guy that he was faster than.
In his book John wrote “a short, wiry young guy suddenly got in [his] face and began yelling at him.” At the time John was 26 years old. Tony was 27 years old. It seemed strange he called him a young guy.
John continued, Tony said: “I had a beef with your friend. I kicked him outta Southie with his tail between his legs.” Tony then issued an expletive at John. “He then reached for his gun but John beat him to it with his .38. He said he was taller than Veranis and he fired down into the ex-boxer’s skull.”
Only in John’s world is his 5’6” taller than Junior’s 5’10”. Why the lies? Why make himself taller? Why does he approach Junior in one story and in the other Junior approaches him? Why did he change the person Tony beat up from his brother to a friend? The whole story, except the murder, was a lie. John’s tales exemplify the fact that when you lie the story is not consistent because you have no memory of what you might have said last.
There was no gun fight. Tony fought with his fists, not a gun. 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 Junior (Tony) was grabbed by John and some other hoodlums. It may have been at an after-hours joint or outside it after Junior left. They did it because he had beaten up Jimmy Martorano. They held him while he was battered and then pistol whipped. They forced him to his knees. A bullet was put in his head.
John was not a stranger to pistol whipping people. He tells of the time when he and the Campbell brothers met Nelson Padron. He wrote: “Johnny 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. . . .”
John Martorano lied to protect people with him, especially his brother. It is as likely that Jimmy Martorano put the bullet in Junior’s head to revenge his beating as John did. All of John Martorano’s stories are based on the idea he is a macho man. He calls himself “Bwana” in his book. Bwana is an African term meaning “boss” or “master.” The federal prosecutors must have believed he was some type of boss because of the deal he received.
Martorano, who was involved in an uncountable number of shootings and murders, was never a macho man. He was no more a macho man than he was a good or honest man. He ducked going into the military by having a guy in bad health take his physical. He was a sneak killer – we had them in our neighborhood, not killers but sneaky guys – who used to come up behind people and sucker punch (sucker shot) them. I guess in a sense you could call Martorano Bwana – he was the master of the sucker shot.. Examining all his murders, they were against unsuspecting or unarmed people who he shot from behind or snuck up on. The one instance he allegedly faced a weapon was with Tony Veranis. But we know it never happened as Martorano imagined. Tony was most likely unarmed. He was never known to carry a gun, and nothing indicates he had one. Tony’s fists were lethal weapons. Despite what he says, John Martorano and friends beat an unarmed Tony and cowardly shot him in the head.
John’s propensity for lying was ongoing and obvious. In his book, he told a story of taking Vincent “Jimmy the Bear” Flemmi out of the hospital a couple of days after he was shot and travelling to Vermont with him. The truth was that the Bear never left the hospital for five weeks. He was under police guard all the time. What do you call a guy who lies and murders unarmed people? How do you make a deal with such a guy?