Following on from New York Times bestseller Midnight in Peking, Paul French released City of Devils, a delve into the murky underworld of Old Shanghai. There were plenty of wrong'uns about, and a whole lot of bad blood between them. In this 'Gangs of Old Shanghai' series, French presents us with a who's who of old time organized crime, and quite the rogues gallery it is too.
The Lojnikoff Gang
Boss: Paul Lojnikoff
Base: The Yar Restaurant, Rue Cardinal Mercier (Maoming Nan Lu)
Paul Lojnikoff started out working for Eugene Pick in his Hovans Gang as Pick’s 'thug-in-chief'. A handy boxer, he was known as 'pretty boy,' and eventually formed his own crew made up mostly of Polish and Russian boxers: his brother Peter, a fighter called Battling Fester, and Kid Teddy, a Polish merchant seaman.
They openly worked with the Japanese as collaborators, and it was generally assumed that all their fights held during the Japanese occupation were rigged. Lojnikoff worked out of the Yar Russian restaurant, where the stable of beautiful white women who worked there were known as 'Lojnikoff’s Harem.' During the war he smuggled silver from Manila to Shanghai and had a beautiful Filipino nightclub singer as his mistress.
After the war, after a brief spell being held by US Army Intelligence, Lojnikoff was one of the only Old Shanghai criminals to restart his gang. He became a blackmarketeer. Some say he eventually went to America and continued boxing, but by then a physical wreck due to hard living, he was killed in the ring.
[Images courtesy of Paul French]