JERSEY BOY The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula

HardCover: ISBN 978-1450-20639-6 ($30.95)

SoftCover: ISBN 978-1450-20637-2 ($20.95)

Genre: True Crime / Boxing

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 268  

Hailing from the tough Westside section of Jersey City, Frankie DePaula appeared to be a phenomenon in the making when he stopped all of his opponents’ enroute to claiming a Golden Gloves title in 1962. That Frankie failed to establish a boxing legacy befitting of one imbued with his natural physical endowments and punching talent is one of the largely unsung tragedies of the fight game.   Here for the first time, Adeyinka Makinde, author of the definitive biography of boxing immortal Dick Tiger, tells the remarkable story of a man seemingly possessed of a force of nature; a charismatic pied piper of Jersey City who sold out arenas and inspired such devotion from fans that some were willing to bet their houses on him being victorious. Frank Sinatra sat ringside at several of his bouts, while Frankie Valli and Joe Namath were close friends. But Frankie was also a man whose character flaws would lead him to an early grave.   The book explores the controversial aspects of his life and career including:   . The rumours that his 1969 fight with Bob Foster for the world’s light heavyweight championship was fixed   . His involvement in a notorious $80,000 heist of electrolytic copper   . The precipitous death of his first manager, Pat Amato, whose role was inherited by Mob front man Gary Garafola   . His dalliance with the married step-daughter of a High-ranking member of the Genovese crime family   . Rumours that he was compromised as an informant for law enforcement agencies   . His shooting in an alley, his subsequent disintegration and eventual demise in a charity ward of the Jersey City Medical Center   Although Frankie appeared to some to be a true life exemplar of a character from ‘ Dead End’; a wild and unreconstructed deviant headed for disaster, his life is set against the backdrop of the often times dysfunctional environs of Jersey City, for long the seat of power of an administration dominated for decades by Mayoral potentate Frank Hague and maligned by the corruption of local politicians and the increasing influence of organised crime.   Recounted are Frankie’s exciting tussles with the likes of Charlie ‘The Devil’ Green, Jimmy McDermott and Dick Tiger. Here too are reminiscences of Frankie’s explosive power as a street fighter and the fear he inspired as a Mob collector.   Although prone to being brutish, Frankie could also be big of heart. And while his many sins rendered him as heartless, he was capable of feats of kindness. Tough, but ultimately weak-minded; Frankie’s tale is a cautionary one: a sobering rendition of one man’s capacity for self-destruction


Adeyinka Makinde is Nigerian by birth and based in England. He trained as a barrister and is a lecturer in law. He wrote the well-reviewed biography, Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal, which was published in 2005.


“Makinde’s research is impressive” –Boxing News –Britain  “…a compelling and inspiring read” –The Fist -Australia


For further information, interviews or review copies contact:e-mail: thelawacademy@aol.comCell: 44(0)7986-111-776
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52 Responses to JERSEY BOY The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula

  1. jedsey says:

    Wednesday (6/16) from 1 – 3 PM EST author Ade Makinde will be in here to answer questions about his new Frankie DePaula book “Jersey Boy”

    Also post your own recollections of Frankie here and click on the tags above for more related stories

    submit your own post above

  2. Kenny Hall, Author, "Billy&Me" says:

    I was born and raised in Jersey City….hung-out at the waterfront (washington, Sussex, Essex Sts., etc…of Jersey City. “Frankie” was infamous…he would come to the “Italian” neighborhood I grew up in….Anchored by Frank Briamonte’s tavern and the old JCPD horse stables.

  3. I very much look forward to discussing the book with an audience.

    • jedsey says:

      welcom back Ade – this time to virtual Jersey City

      if we all respond in Ade’s box with comments he won’t have to search for responses

      Frankie stories can still be posted at the end of this string below

      first question Ade – how are sales going?

      • Hello all,

        jed they seem to be going well. I can monitor publisher sales but amazon and other sales may take time although I’ll get the publishers to keep tabs!

      • I should also add that I hope to arrange a trip to Jersey / New York soon like I did 3 years ago when I was researching. Now it’ll be about promoting…

        • jedsey says:

          Better get here soon – we are dropping like files

          Frankie Failace is in the Medical Center for last 2 days and I am way past my own expiration date

          That is great that you are meeting with my cousin, Joe Ilvento, for tea and crumpets on Friday night – he picked up on all this when I sent out the email alert yesterday and he just happened to be in your town – I don’t think he is looking in now but take a photo for the next JJ when you are together

          The photo you took of Steve Friedland when he was over there is going in this June issue as we speak

    • jedsey says:

      would you say this project has been a labor of love or would you say it has been a labour of love?

      • Ha-ha. Labor is Labour. It just depends on which side of the pond we’re at.

        Seriously, I guess it has been a labour of love. The Frankie DePaula project just like the Dick Tiger project are not about well known figures like Ali, Dempsey, Louis. But I feel that I had to be as tenacious in researching the facts as any other biographer of a more well-known personality would be.

        My intention was to make Frankie an almost living and breathing figure as they make their way through the pages of the book.

        • I’m also keen to find out the impressions of those who have already ordered and read the book.

          • jedsey says:

            I heard a report that Jimmy Failace read it in one day and his kidding comment was that you gave his brother Frankie credit for his photos from the Tiger fight.

            I have not seen the finished version – but Bobby DePaula told me he had received a copy- Bobby: any comments? (he is at a friend’s house monitorhing on line but they may not know to refresh the page every so often)

          • cole says:

            I am only a few chapters into the book but i have heard many stories about him. he was my moms 1st cousin. The book so far has been a great read i also got my mom the book and she can not wait to read it.

          • Joey DePaula says:

            I read the book in one day.

          • Thats interesting about Frankie Failace’s brother having being the photographer. We can credit both when we do the second edition!

            I gave credits to the ‘suppliers’ of photos…

            Jed, I think I need to send you an adobe file of the book in the interim period before I send the signed copy. These publishers are really atrocious! I’ll do that during this session….Cole, thanks for the information. I hope the book becomes an even greater read as you get through it. Hope it brings the old Jersey back to your mom too!

          • jedsey says:

            Bobby lost his connection but is on the phone – said he learned some new stuff about his brother from reading the book all in all he thought it was a fair representation

          • Welcome Joe..good to hear Mr. Bobby DePaula’s impressions.

            I would not want to do either a whitewash or a hatchet job.

            An extensively researched book was always going to bring out stuff which would be painful for family, but it hopefully, also shows his achievements and why he remains a truly remarkable figure in the annals of Jersey history

          • mary says:

            The picture of Frankie and Angela woman you named as Relative is my Mom

          • Hello Mary,
            I had hoped to get a positive identification of her. What was her full name?

          • Joey DePaula says:

            I just confirmed with my Aunt Angela that the woman in the picture is my grandmother, Virginia.

          • I did my best to get interviews with Frankie Valli and Joe Namath. Two absolute legends respectively of American music and American sport. Also, no luck! It would be interesting if they can read the book and that they may wish to ‘open up’ a little in the future about recalling their friend Frankie DiPaula.

        • Joey DePaula says:

          Somethings were a surprise to me. Alot of people have stories about my dad — everyone needs to remember he was my dad and is a grandfather that is sorely missed.

          • Mary says:

            Joey, I have a letter that your Dad wrote to your Aunt Angela. And when Your aunt Angela came to visit Aunt Anna & Uncle Mickey she
            gave Aunt Anna the letter because your Dad was asking for them in the letter he wrote. I Loved your Dad and dispite any things written he was always respectfull to My Mom & Dad….xo Cousin Mary

          • Joey DePaula says:

            Hey Mary – You all have the greatest memories and were lucky to be in dad’s presence — it was tough for me since I was only two. Wish I could remember him like you do. Aunt Ang used too and still tells me stories about you and your brothers when everyone was younger – they were all positive and you guys had a great childhood together.

          • Mary says:

            Joey, My Brothers Phil & Mike would remember lots more then me. I was about 17 or 18 when your dad Passed away….but I can tell you that
            we were all close and your Grandmother Virginia was always at my house. She was just the very Best!!!! I have not seen you since you were a little boy……but Me and my girlfriend use to come to your house
            downtown JC and hang out with your Mom and play with you and your
            brothers & sister.

    • Mary says:

      The woman (Relative) in the picture with Frankie & his sister Angela is my Mom.
      Frankie knw her as Aunt Anna

  4. Ron says:

    I know Frankie from the RAG DOLL cocktail lounge in Union City. He was always buying people drinks. I saw him fight Dick Tiger almost won in the first round.

  5. I knew Frankie by reputation. I had heard stories about how he would get even with the older guys in his neighborhood who picked on him by stealing a car and driving it into their car jumping out just before the collision.
    One day I played a pick up softball game on diamond #10 at Lincoln Park. I played center field and Frankie was in left field next to me. I knew him well enough to causually converse but that was all. By the way, our catcher that day was Chuck Wepner. Later that day I went down to the “Polish American Eagles” club who’s team we were playing for that day and had a few beers while sitting on the bar stool next to ” The Bayonne Bleeder”. Both of these tough Jersey guys were Quiet and confident, and seemingly easy to get along with.

    One night while walking between bars in Union City I was alone and looking for some friendly faces. On the other side of the street I saw three guys walking in the same direction as me and a block away and walking toward the three I saw five guys. When the two groups met there was an exchange of words and suddenly, one of the three started throwing punches and knocking down all five of that group. Once they had hit the ground then just layed there, out like a light. Curiosity got the best of me and I walked out in the middle of the street to get a closer look at the Knock out artist. It was Frankie DePaula. I know knew why his friends didn’t try to help him. Frankie needed no help from no man.

    Oh yes, I was at Madison Gardens the night Frankie fought Dick Tiger. It was the only professional fight of his that I ever attended. Tiger was a highly respected champion who every other fighter had been ducking for years. When they finally gave him a shot at the title at age 38 he took it. Frankie was definetly the underdog but you would never know it from the crowd response. I saw a lot of familiar faces there from Jersey City. Well early in the fight Frankie cought tigher with a punch so powerful that Tigher flew through the air arms and legs spread out and crashed to the canvas. For a moment it looked as though Frankie had pulled the greatest upset in history. Then, as the ref began his count, Tiger shook his head and slowly rose to his feet at the count of eight. He was wobbly but got through the round. The rest is history.

    One last recollection was a sunny day on West Side Avenue and Duncan. Don Nagle, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in Karate, had asked me to go with him to a meeting with Frankie DePaula. At the time I was one of Don’s students at his Karate DoJo on Mercer Street Near St. Aedans School. I believe the meeting was about some bad blood that had developed between them. Anyway, we met on the corner, and then went into a small luncheonette there. We sat on the stools at the counter with one open seat between us. Two supremely confident warriors verbally sparring head to head in basey undertones. You could cut the tension with a knife. Don had his normal game face on, jaw ridged, eyes hard fixed, while Frankie wore a cool knowing grin just as calm as a cucumber. Fortunetly for me, it all ended in a handshake.

    • Larry Tormey says:

      I grew up with Frankie around West Side and Duncan in the mid 40’s. I was several years older than him but this tough little Italian kid was part of the neighborhood “gang”. Frankie had a tough upbringing. His father, “Babe De Paula, was a tough, rugged looking gravedigger at Holy Name Cemetery, on West Side Avenue. He’d spend his paycheck drinking beer with my father at the White Spot. It was known that “Babe” occasionally took a swing at his wife. It was not a happy household. (Ironically, “Babe’s” brother was Frank DePaula a well know JC restauranteur and boxing promoter. Frank’s daughter Angela married Joe Curcio, a welterweight whose main claim to fame was that he fought Sugar Ray Robinson.) Frankie was always getting into trouble. One time he went in to buy a soda at George’s candy store on Duncan just below West Side. The soda was 7 cents. Frankie had 5 cents. George wouldn’t let him have it. Frankie left, got some matches, went behind the store and set the building on fire–with six apartments above it. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But Frankie ended up in Reform School. He grew up to be a strong man. But in his growing up days, he was a scrawny looking kid who had no interest in going to school. But he did enjoy climbing up on top of the five story roof of PS 17 on Duncan Avenue, and taunting everyone below—with the cops waiting for him to come down. But as tough as he was, Frankie had the feelings and emotions of any 10-12 year old kid. One day we were choosing up sides to play stickball on the sidewalk in front of PS 17. Frankie would often be on one of the teams. But this day, he didn’t make the cut and ended up sitting on the school steps. Crying his eyes out. I remember going over to him to see what was the problem. Through the tears, he snarled at me: “Everybody hates me”. Even as a kid, Frankie was living a life of rejection in so many ways. Perhaps that’s why Fate had in store for him the life that he led.
      Larry Tormey

    • Excellent recollections -particularly the last one which tallys with my conclusion that Frankie and Don Nagle never clashed. I would have loved your recollection about their meeting in JERSEY BOY.

      • Sorry Ade, but I didn’t find out about the book till after it was published. It would have been ok with me if you did publish my recollections though. I probably have more memories of Frankie but those were all I could recall. I’m 72 and my memory is slowly fading with age.

        Robert E. (Bob) McCallion

  6. Denis says:

    Tough guy tough times!

  7. Joey DePaula says:

    Ade – Think I found you. Joey

  8. Mary says:

    My Mom and Virginia were sisters…I know my Moms mother was from Sicily,
    not sure were my grandfather was from, I assumed it was Sicily also

  9. Pingback: Frankie DePaula, Boxer killed by the Mob – Book – Author – Stories |

  10. jedsey says:

    This book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

    most people I have heard from picked it up quickly using Amazon

  11. I think I knew Bobby McLaughlin also. If he was the guy who played basketball for St. Josephs high school downtown Jersey City. I believe he scored fifty points in one game. I’m sure I remember talking to him in a small group outside of the Hilltop Bar on Mercer Street. As I recall the conversation Bobby was telling us how he made three hundred dollars a night or a week tending bar in New York City. When we asked him how he could make so much money he replied; tips, clips, and salary. I remember somebody saying; “You mean you steal a hundred dollars a night or a week and your boss don’t notice?” It might have been me asking, I don’t remember. He was a good looking kid, blue eyes dirty blond hair. He was nervy, could be he got caurght with his hand in the till?

  12. kelli rose says:

    I have some Curcio Family photos that I bought
    think are of Joe and Angela. If anyone here could take a sec to look at the photo or
    chat…and let me know if I have the right Curcio family

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