Top 5 Sports Mob Murders of All-Time
1 James (Sonny) Liston – The former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Liston was widely-know to be “sponsored” by New York-based mob prize-fighting czar Frank (Blinky) Palermo and the St. Louis mafia, specifically underboss John (Johnny V) Vitale and Don, Anthony (Tony G) Giordano. A longtime “wild card” and substance abuser, his December 30 1970 heroin overdose in Las Vegas has come under scrutiny for possible foul play and the reputed involvement of Vitale, Giordano and their men. Following his retirement and his pair of losses to Muhammad Ali in the1960s, Liston moved to Nevada and began working for a series of mob-backed hotels and casinos as a greeter.
2 Victor Weiss – The agent for legendary college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian (Long Beach State, Fresno State, UNLV) Weiss was found in a North Hollywood parking garage, tied up, gagged and shot twice in the back of the head in the trunk of his Rolls Royce on June 17, 1979, last seen alive leaving a meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel three days before with L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Weiss, a mob associate suspected of couriering skimmed Las Vegas casino cash, was offed while in the midst of negotiating a contract for “Tark the Shark’s” to become the next head coach of the Lakeshow, a deal that never came to fruition. Detectives that worked the still never-cracked case pointed to Weiss’ exorbitant gambling debts and possible stealing of the skim money he was delivering as the motives for his slaying. Tarkanian returned to the college ranks, winning a national title with UNLV in 1990
3 Gilbert (Gil the Brain) Beckley – Known as the biggest sports gambler and handicapper in the United States throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Beckley was believed to have been a major NFL game-fixer and went on to testify against members of New England’s Patriarca Crime Family. In the wake of his testimony, he disappeared on February 11, 1970
4 Ray Ryan – Large-scale sports gambler, land-developer, oil tycoon and boxing promoter, Ryan ran afoul with the Chicago mafia, blown up in a car bomb outside his Evansville, Indiana athletic club on October 18, 1977. Ryan, a close friend to a number of NFL owners, had testified against Windy City mobster Marshall (Johnny Shoes) Caifano, sending the one-time mafia overseer in Las Vegas to prison in the years prior to his violent demise.
5 Adolpho “Dino Bravo” Bresciano – The former WWF star, who became an enforcer for the Montreal mafia, was slain inside his own home on March 10, 1993, riddled with close to two dozen bullets as he sat on his couch watching television. A nephew via marriage to former Quebec mob chief Vic (The Egg) Cotroni, Bresciano was alleged to have cheated some fellow wiseguys on a cigarette-smuggling scam.