If you’ve watched Martin Scorsese’s mob drama The Irishman, then Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano may be familiar. He’s the short, stocky protagonist with an unpredictable temper who spent much of his youth boxing as an amateur boxer.
He advanced rapidly through the ranks of Genovese crime family’s New Jersey branch before rising to become powerful leader of Teamsters Local 560 and running his own trucking company while engaging in shake down operations.
Early Life and Education
Provenzano rose from being a Depression-era truck driver on the Lower East Side to become a union official and soon attracted powerful racketeers as allies, eventually becoming his own mobster.
Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano used his muscular physique to his advantage on the streets and gain respect from peers – thus positioning himself for success in organized labor.
Provenzano served as president of Teamsters Local 560 in New Jersey and an International Union vice president covering the North Atlantic region, but his name was also linked with Hoffa’s disappearance; one theory suggested he may have shipped his body in a metal barrel from Michigan to New Jersey for disposal – something Hoffa expert Dan Moldea supported despite no hard evidence to back this claim up. Hoffa and Provenzano had longstanding rivalries that became intensified while both were imprisoned at Lewisburg prison.
Anthony Provenzano was born to Sicilian immigrants in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1917. As a truck driver he earned $10 per week – this became his ticket into both Teamsters Union and organized crime.
He rose through the ranks to lead Local 560 and Teamsters Joint Council 73 in New Jersey, serve as an International Union vice president covering parts of Eastern America, and serve as trustee of the IBT pension fund. Furthermore, he became one of Jimmy Hoffa’s closest confidantes as well as meet an disgraced former American president.
He astonished veteran courthouse observers when his conviction in a bribery trial took them by surprise, having believed that the Government’s case was weak. Additionally, it cast him as a prime suspect in the 1961 disappearance of Teamster rival Anthony “Three Fingers” Castellito.
Achievement and Honors
Tony Provenzano makes for an engaging character in The Irishman as the mobster-turned-real estate lawyer Tony, but his life was anything but comical. A high-ranking member of New York City’s Genovese crime family and spending much of his career working within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters organisation where he engaged in extensive acts of extortion were just two aspects of Tony’s infamous past.
Provenzano was described by The New York Times obituary as being “short, stocky and ham-fisted,” having once been an amateur boxer early in his life and adept at swinging his fists (a skill which later served him well when charged with the murder of Teamster boss Vincent Castellito). He died on December 12, 1988 at Lompoc Federal Penitentiary in California at age 71.
Ryan White reports that Provenzano had an antagonistic relationship with Jimmy Hoffa at times; according to White’s book, Provenzano attempted to secure a restaurant loan from Hoffa but was turned down.
Born in New York City in 1917, Provenzano decided to drop out of school at fifteen and begin working for a trucking company as well as becoming an amateur boxer.
He served as international vice president, trustee of the union’s Eastern Conference and president of New Jersey Teamsters Joint Council 73. Additionally, he held absolute control of New Jersey Teamsters Local 560.
In the early 1960s, Provenzano found himself engaged in an ongoing feud with Union Leader Jimmy Hoffa over control of Teamsters pension funds, said to stem from his time spent serving time together at Lewisburg prison. Hoffa then asked Provenzano to withdraw from union politics; when this refusal proved futile he tried forcing Provenzano out and eventually it escalated into physical altercations between them both over this dispute.
Fans of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” know Provenzano as Danielle Staub’s friend-come-bodyguard; he was arrested last year for attacking her over money she loaned him and now shares his keys for success on Team Lally!
Provenzano left most of his estate to his second wife via a will filed in court. He passed away due to heart disease at Lompoc Federal Prison in California at age 71 in December.
Stephen Graham plays Tony Pro in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman with comedic overtones; however, his real-life counterpart held leadership positions and participated in some extortions himself. Unfortunately for Provenzano though, his involvement in the Castellito murder and links to Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa ultimately cost him dearly.