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Al Capone: How a dedicated student expelled for hitting a female teacher dropped out and became a mob boss

Born to poor Italian immigrant parents, Gabriele and Teresa, Capone had eight other siblings and his family moved to America in search of a better life
UPDATED MAY 12, 2020
Al Capone (Getty Images)
Al Capone (Getty Images)

“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone,” Al Capone once said. Widely known as one of the most infamous gangsters in the 1920s, he was the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit for seven long years.  

Born to poor Italian immigrant parents, Gabriele and Teresa, Capone had eight other siblings and his family moved to America in search of a better life. His father, Gabriele worked at a barbershop at 29 Park Avenue and his mother was a seamstress. They moved to 38 Garfield Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn when Al was 11.

A fine student, Alphonse Gabriel Capone was dedicated towards his studies but often had trouble following the strict code of conduct at his Catholic elementary school. He repeatedly started missing out on his lessons and failed in his sixth grade. He had gotten in bad company and hung out at the docks.  

Al Capone (Getty Images)

In a shocking incident from his childhood, one of his female teachers once beat him for rude behavior and he hit her back in the face. When the news went to the principal, Capone was spanked again. After that rough day, he never came back to school. Soon, he met his future wife, Mary (Mae) Josephine Coughlin, and got married to her when he was 19.

Capone pursued a couple of odd jobs, including working at a candy store and a bowling alley. He met gangster Johnny Torrio and was influenced by him to no limits. Soon, Torrio became Capone's mentor. In his adolescent years, he got involved with small-time gangs like Junior Forty Thieves, the Bowery Boys and the Brooklyn Rippers.

An ill-informed bouncer, he was embroiled in organized crime and then joined the mighty Five Points Gang based in Lower Manhattan. A fellow racketeer Frankie Yale, who worked as a bartender in a Coney Island dance hall and saloon called the Harvard Inn, employed him and mentored him. One day at the bar, he insulted a woman and her brother Frank Gallucio slashed him right in his face three times. After that brutal event, he became known as Scarface, a nickname that he despised.

Al Capone (1899 - 1947) with US Marshal Laubenheimer (Getty Images)

By 1925, he established the Chicago Outfit, and going against his mentor's advice, he bought a lavish mansion in downtown Chicago and led a luxurious life. It is said his business earned over $100 million in revenue annually.

In the next four years, he dominated the illegal liquor trade and one of his famous sayings goes, “All I ever did was to sell beer and whiskey to our best people. All I ever did was to supply a demand that was pretty popular. Why, the very guys that make my trade good are the ones that yell the loudest about me. Some of the leading judges use the stuff. When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality.”

To know more, watch 'Capone' to see Tom Hardy star as the infamous mob boss. 'Capone' is going straight to Video on Demand but will get a theatrical release later this year once coronavirus restrictions are more relaxed. The movie dropped for streaming on May 12.