Today on Heal Yourself Talk Radio I had the honored priveledge to interview Tony Napoli (Tony Nap) author of “My Father, My Don”.
Tony Nap led a life that most of us only see in the movies. Tony is the son of the most powerful and respected organized crime leaders of the modern era. Tony’s father was Genovese Family Capo, James “Jimmy Nap” Napoli- a mob kingpin who ruled over the largest gambling empire in America for almost 40 years.
I enjoyed reading Tony’s autobiography and learning more about his life from the beginning. In “My Father, My Don” you read from the very beginning when his grandfather came over on what they called a “banana boat” (it was called a banana boat because people were crammed into the cargo area like produce) to come to America to start a new life. Tony’s grandfather was a brick layer who during the time he worked hard barely made enough to support his family. Tony’s father James “Jimmy Nap” Napoli started working when he was 13 years old. After awhile Tony’s father decided he didn’t want to work as a brick layer and wanted to go into business for himself.
“My Father, My Don” goes into the various details of Tony’s life including his life as a soldier, a boxer, an enforcer, a casino boss, and a hustler. But that is not all that happened in Tony’s life. Tony had a special love and bond with his mother, in the book he talks about this and the hurt and loss when he learned of his mother’s death 3 years after he was forced to move to Mexico by his father.
After the brutal attack on a young man who had sexually attacked his daughter he was sentenced to 3 years at a VA hospital. Tony turned his life around during those 3 years from a heavy alchoholic to a man who has now been sober for 15 years on July 11, 2009 and is now helping Veterans learn what rights they have from the government and who continued on with his father’s dream of helping ex-boxers having a place to go for help when their career was over.
Says Napoli, “Doing this kind of work makes me feel complete. It makes me feel that all the bad I did led to something good. It makes the journey seem purposeful–like there was a reason for it all. If I knew doing good felt this good I would have done it years earlier.”
During today’s interview we talked about many of these incidents in Tony’s life and how he feels that his life and his past will be able to help others who are searching for sobriety as well.
I highly recommend you read “My Father, My Don” it is a true story of a son’s love for his father and his family from most stand points you do not get to see in organized crime.
From back of book cover: Tony’s autobiography is a bold recounting of the confidential world that he and his father inhabited. In candid, no-holds-barred language, Tony describes his life as boxer, army solider, enforcer, casino boss, fugitive, hustler, and offspring to one of the most powerful mobsters of the century.
His story is not only about the spellbinding dealings of the Napoli empire, but also-and equally important-the singularly cherished relationship he had with his father, his don. Tony Napoli’s roller coaster account of family legend and organized crime followed by his turnaround focus on sobriety and civic contribution is a narrative of our time.
Tony Napoli’s website http://www.myfathermydon.com where you can view more photos, read more about his family history, and view the crest that was his grandfather’s when he was in Italy….
NOTE FROM REBBEKAH: “My apologies to Tony Napoli for pronouncing his last name wrong. I practiced it so many times before the interview and yet I still said it wrong. Thank you for being understanding.”
Book Video Trailer: My Father, My Don
Biography of Tony Napoli
Tony Napoli (“Tony Nap”) has had a checkered life as a soldier, a boxer, an enforcer, a casino boss, a fugitive, and a hustler. Born in 1935 in Brooklyn, NY as Anthony Napoli, he was raised by his mother, Grace and his father, James “Jimmy Nap” Napoli–a mob kingpin who ruled over the largest gambling empire in America for almost 40 years.
Tony grew up in Brooklyn, and after graduating from high school in 1955, at the advice of his father, joined the United State’s Air Force. He graduated from Air Police School in 1956 and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) under General Curtis E. Lemay. His first assignment: escorting the general around the Far East on reconnaissance missions.
Describing his military experience in his autobiography, My Father, My Don: A Son’s Journey from Organized Crime to Sobriety, Napoli says, “I was also trained to go into enemy territory to free our captured servicemen from prison camps. I was trained to kill the enemy by choking him around his neck with a thin peace of wire–swiftly and silently so that I could remain unseen and unheard. The only real weapon I carried was a 12-inch bayonet. The streets of Brooklyn made me tough, but the U.S. government made me a killer.”
In the military, Napoli developed a reputation as an exceptional boxer, fighting on the U.S. Air Force boxing team in the tournament leading up to 1956 Olympics. General Lemay told Napoli, “That’s quite a ******* right hand you got there.” But his Olympic hopes and plans for military service were dashed by his father’s insistence. Napoli describes his disappointment in a chapter titled “The Road Not Taken.”
The road that he took featured a reckless and drunkard lifestyle. His father exiled him to Tucumcari, New Mexico after Tony had assaulted a corrupt New Jersey police captain. He returned to Brooklyn after learning that his mother had died, but sent back to New Mexico again after another violent exploit in a bar.
“All you do is burn up money and hurt people,” his father told him. I can’t even look at you. You make me sick. How are you my son?”
Back in New Mexico, and in a yet another intoxicated fit, he robbed a finance company. Napoli was acquitted thanks to his father’s ties to a New Mexico senator. From there, His father sent Tony to Las Vegas to work in the Sands and later Caesars Palace–where he cavorted both with mob figures and celebrities including Frank Sinatra.
Finally–described in the opening chapter of his autobiography–after a brutal attack against a young man who had sexually attacked his daughter, he was sentenced to a stint at a VA hospital. During these years, Tony cleaned himself up, successfully completing a sobriety program, becoming pivotal in the rights-for-veterans movement, and helping former boxers get counseling and other services.
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