Paul Kelly – The founder of Five Points Gang

Paul Kelly is considered to be a high profile gangster of the New York City during the early 1900s. It was in Sicily that he was born in 1879 as Paulo Vaccarelli. During the early 1890s, he migrated to the States and on reaching, became a well known bantamweight boxer. He had his last name to be changed to Kelly that is Irish sounding from his Italian Vacacarelli, so as to gain more fights, as Italians were regarded to be of low class. He was quite an intelligent and erudite person, having knowledge of three languages. He was liked by everyone and well dressed, the reason why, he could recruit several quality gangsters.

Life as a mafia

After his official retirement from boxing, he established Lower Manhattan’s notorious Five Points Gang. This gang had about 1500 members and had been termed to be the breeding ground to few of the most well known gangsters, to immigrate to the United States. Some of the members included al Capone, Johnny Torrio, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Frankie Yale and Lucky Luciano.

Although his gang comprised mostly of Italians, Monk Eastman was regarded to be his nemesis having a 2000 strong Jewish gang. Both the parties often fought violently with each other. Bowery was their dividing line, with Kelly establishing control of the west and the east by Eastman. The remaining was neutral territory and it is here that the trouble began. Disputes arose as to who controlled where and what.

Both had been employed by Tammany Hall as Election Day head-busters. However, the gangs had become out of control and dangerous for the entire community. The bosses of Tammany Hall had wanted Kelly and Eastman to fight the dispute one on one, with the winner establishing right over the disputed territory. With the fight being a draw, both returned to their own territories.

In November 1908, his fortune luck gave up, when Razor Riley and Biff Ellison, two of his ex-henchmen had him shot, killing his two bodyguards on the spot. Although the shooters were fired back and Kelly recovered from the injuries, his clout was never to be the same again. With him losing the favor of Tammany Hall, he was forced to relocate to the Italian Harlem, where he carried out criminal endeavors to a certain toned point. He got involved with legal and illegal union activities and was elected as VP of International Longshoremen Association. He died due to natural causes in 1936.