Probably the first real big crime family in the UK was the Sabini Family, of mixed English and Italian parentage. Their home base for many years was Clerkenwell, an area close to Kings Cross, that was also known as "Little Italy". The family consisted of the leader, Charles "Darby" Sabini, along with brothers Fred, George, Harry and Joe. Darby was born in 1888. They had their small rackets around their area but what provided the vast bulk of their money, was simple racecourse extortion. Bookies had to pay for the privelege of having a pitch on the course, having a bucket and sponge to wipe the boards, and even chalk. When they arrived on the courses, some were armed, and anybody foolish enough to try to stand up against them, ended up severely assaulted and slashed.
You would think that with activities like these going on, the Police would have been taking action. Not so. A good number of Police were accepting bribes from the Sabinis, so in reality, the Sabinis worked hand in glove with the Police. Leniency if they had to take action, tip offs about Police activity, and even senior officers speaking very highly of this thug. But they were not the only racecourse gang. They had the control of the southern courses, but in the north, their were mobs from Leeds, Uttoxeter, and the powerfulest, Billy Kimbers` Brummagen Boys. Bloody brawls became a feature with these mobs.
Sabini had apparently made a name for himself after flattening a strong arm man known as "Monkey" Benneyworth. Debate has gone on in books as to whether Benneyworth actually existed. Benneyworth worked for The Elephant Gang, and had supposedly deliberately ripped the dress of a young Italian girl, in front of Sabini. The Elephant mob was forced to leave Clerkenwell, after attacks from the Sabinis and other young men. This formed the nucleus of his mob, said to number as many as three hundred. In later years, a faction did break away, this was the four Cortesi Brothers,Enrico, Augustus, Paul & George. fights began between the rival factions for control of the southern courses. But what finished them off, was the war in 1939. Being of Italian extraction led them to being interred as enemy aliens. After the war, Sabini worked as a bookmaker in Brighton and died in 1950.