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John Gotti Lost a Prison Fight -- So What!!??

Updated on April 23, 2011
John Gotti, Dec. 11, 1990
John Gotti, Dec. 11, 1990 | Source

Here's the issue:

In 1996, after being incarcerated for four years, John Gotti, the convicted head of New York's Gambino crime family, got into an altercation with a black inmate. After the two exchanged heated words, the inmate, one Walter Johnson, punched Gotti in the face and knocked him to the ground.

Ok, this type of thing happens in prisons all the time. After all, prisons are filled with violent, anti-social persons who are quick to use their fists (among other things) to settle disputes and exact revenge.

And most of the time, the public rarely hears about these incidents. But since it was John Gotti who was involved (and not John Q felon), it automatically became a hot story.

And to a lot of people, especially ones on internet message forums and on Youtube!, there seemed to be something "weak" or "shameful" about a big, bad, tough mob boss getting beaten up in the can.

After all, "Johnny Boy" Gotti was known for being a tough guy who was good with his fists.

Growing up, Gotti had plenty of "rumbles" on the streets of New York. And as a "goodfella in training," Johnnie Boy was known for his quick temper and fast fists, a guy who was used to collect "bad" debts or "encourage" debtors to pay up!

Heck, even after becoming boss of the Gambino's, Gotti was arrested for assault and battery after getting into fisticuffs over a parking spot.

So, of course, John Gotti had a reputation as being a tough guy. And by all intents and purposes, he was a tough, hard man; he wasn't what you would call, using a term Gotti liked to use, a "lay down Sally."

But still, the almighty John Gotti lost a prison fight jn Marion federal penitentiary to a convicted bank robber and suddenly Gotti was a "punk," a "wannabe," a "poser."

But here's the thing: even tough guys lose fights and get beaten up. If a tough guy loses a fight, does he cease being a tough guy?

Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, then he lost to Evander Holyfield. Was he not a tough guy because he lost?

Holyfield lost before fighting Tyson as well as after. So what? Both guys regrouped and resumed doing what they were good at: kicking butt!

As far as John Gotti goes, I'm not defending the guy's criminal exploits or trying to elevate him into something that he was not: he was a gangster, a criminal, a thug.

But I can give him his due as a tough guy and as a guy who took his prison sentence without whining, ratting, or breaking. Him getting beaten up in a prison fight doesn't erase anything about Gotti.

And another thing to remember is this: John Gotti was nearly 56-years-old when he was assaulted by his attacker, who happened to be much bigger than Gotti and much younger (28). So, it wasn't exactly an evenly-matched fight!

And being true to his tough guy "mobster" code, Gotti refused to rat on his attacker. He told the prison authorities that he "fell down." John took his lumps just like he did his life in prison sentence: without complaining!

The fact that Gotti reached out to the violent Aryan Brotherhood prison gang to exact vengeance on his attacker means that Gotti's venom still ran strong and he was ready to meet a challenge, an affront, any way he could.

John Gotti was a gangster, a killer, a robber, and a thief. But he was, without a doubt, a genuine tough guy!


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      rico 11 months ago

      gotti lived a horrible life and died a horrible death

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      Wilddog 5 years ago

      Italian trash, plain and simply!

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      me 5 years ago

      Always wondered if Gotti's 'outloud' lifestyle would've have gotten him whacked if Gambino was still around when Gotti was...he was no angel, but who said U had to be 'good' whatever that is, to be 'tough'? He kept his mouth shut and accepted his final fate, life n prison, worthy of a lot of respect right there...

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      joe 5 years ago

      Yeah, Gotti was an underworld superpower, a mob boss, a "made" man.He was also something else. He was a stupid man. He violated the code of the Mafia by publicity seeking. He was flashy and loud, something that the "old" bosses were just the opposite of. So what did this get him? He had a family that he no longer could spend time with and he had to live out the rest of his life in prison. That's smart? He may have been "tough," but he was also stupid!

    • profile image

      CARLO CARLOS 5 years ago


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      bezo 5 years ago


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      AB 5 years ago

      If anyone really knows anything about jail/prison life, the fact that Gotti was able to command a tremendous amount of respect from the Aryan Brotherhood as quick as he did was impressive. To not only offer, but smuggle $100,000 into prison shows a crazy amount of power Gotti had. And all of this was to dispose of a guy who had roughed him up some. As far as respect goes, Gotti was the absolute king and had more power than any of the other gangs combined. Walter Johnson, on the other hand, is essentially a nobody in comparison.

    • AnthonyJ33 profile image

      AnthonyJ33 5 years ago from Southern California


      Sarah? Is that your pet prison name? Lol.....kidding

      In case you missed the news, John Gotti died in June 2002. So, he's no longer in prison. And I made it clear in the article that Gotti was a robber, a thief, a murderer, etc. I just made the case that, even though Gotti lost a fistfight, he was still a tough guy! End of story! Working a 9-to-5 job and leading an honest, clean life is no prerequisite for being a tough guy. Learn to pay more attention when you read an article, especially one written by an award-winning and ever-so-handsome journalist such as myself!

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      Sarah 5 years ago

      I read your remarks about Gotti and thought, what a dumb-ass this guy is. John gotti was a punk. He stole like a coward in the night. He had no balls. Real men make an honest living and respect others. Scum like Gotti were stupid thugs who couldn't make it in the real world so they hurt people to make a living. He bullied people with the threat of violence if you didn't comply. He had the numbers, if he hit you, you take it... that's all. In prison, he had to play by different rules. Yep, he had to man up. Nobody was going to run from him. He got his ass handed to him. Did he fight back? nope! the coward went to another organization and they told him he was a little bitch who needed to settle his own score. Tough? Sounds like he's a little bitch to me. My guess is he's taking it up the butt and learnig to like it. He's probably a swallower by now and not feeling very tough. LOL! Tough guy john, my ass... no his ass! lol.