The Life and Times of Raymond Chow, Chinatown Gangster
If anyone was born to the gangster life, it is Raymond Chow. Indeed, the more one looks at Raymond Chow’s background, the more one can see that he had criminal ties that gave him much power, and he knew how to wield it. As Chow tells it, he committed his first crime at age 8, joined the Triads and cut somebody up at age 9, and by age 12, had sex with a prostitute for the first time. In his teens, the young hoodlum was involved in a slew of criminal activities, such as gambling, extortion and racketeering. Chow had the swagger and style of a big-time gangster, but he certainly didn’t look like one, at least at first glance. Barely 5’5” tall, he had a distinctive shaved head, a pencil mustache and a penchant for white, tailor-made suits. One of five brothers, Raymond Chow was born in Hong Kong on December 31, 1959, as Chow Kwok-Cheung. His nickname, “Shrimp Boy,” an obvious reference to his short stature, was given to him by his grandmother in the belief that evil spirits could not find little children like her Raymond if they did not know their name. Of Taishanese Chinese descent, Chow’s family comes from a coastal city in the southern Guangdong province in the People’s Republic of China. The number of Taishanese in China total close to a million, while another half million reside in America. The Taishanese count many notable people among their numbers, including artists, politicians, movie stars and martial artists.Chow came to live in San Francisco, a city whose population includes 150,000 Chinese. That number amounts to about 22 percent of the population, which gives San Francisco the highest percentage of residents of Chinese descent of any major U.S. city.