Today's Birthday 6/8

Taylor Thompson-Fuller
Mick Gatto began his working life helping his parents in the fruit and vegetable industry

Today's Birthday, August 8: Mick Gatto, Australian underworld figure (1955 - )

Mick Gatto is taking legal action against the ABC after claims the national broadcaster made in a February report.

The complaint stems from an article about Melbourne's "Lawyer X" scandal, based on a 2016 police affidavit.

Gatto said there are eight defamatory items in the piece, including that he was a hit man, a murderer, and that he plotted to lure drug trafficker Victor Peirce to his death and ordered his killing.

"He [Gatto] has become increasingly sick and tired ... of this level of erroneous, misleading, mischievous and damaging reporting," his lawyer Pat Lennon told the AAP this year.

With alleged links to Melbourne crime figures, Gatto is one of Australia's most notorious underworld personalities.

The son of two Italian migrants from Calabria, Domenic "Mick" Gatto began his working life helping his parents in the fruit and vegetable industry.

There he gained the attention of boxing trainer Kevin Waterson.

As a boxer Gatto was billed under the name The Italian Stallion but even though he had prospects in the sport, his career ground to a halt.

Over 20 years Gatto made his fortune running the largest two-up gambling networks in the state.

In 2004 he was taken into custody for the alleged murder of Andrew Veniamin, another notorious underworld figure, who was suspected of being a hit man for the infamous Williams crime family.

Gatto remained in custody for 14 months until he was found not guilty at trial, after he claimed he acted in self-defence during the argument that ended Veniamin's life.

Gatto also works as a business mediator to various Australian building industry companies and personalities.

In 2002 he was named in proceedings before the Cole Royal Commission, established to investigate alleged misconduct in the industry.

Gatto is also closely connected to embattled CFMEU boss John Setka.

"He's a decent man [Setka] with the interests of his members at heart," Gatto told the Saturday Paper in 2014.

Earlier this year the ABC published a report claiming a court was told Gatto "threatened to kill" police informer 3838, also known as Lawyer X.

The report, relying on a 2016 police affidavit, said confidential evidence showed "Lawyer X would 'almost be certainly' murdered if her former clients were told... that she had been speaking to police while she acted as their lawyer".

Gatto's lawyer maintains the article was a "smear piece".