How growing up in Philly prepared me to face an alligator


Recently transplanted to Florida, Eugene Bozzi has gone from driving SEPTA to dealing with wildlife.

Eugene Bozzi, aka Abdul Gene Malik, of Philly, who threw an alligator in a trash can in Florida this week (photo courtesy of Eugene Bozzi)

When Philly was born and raised Eugene Bozzi, aka Abdul Gene Malik aka @NorfPhilly_geno, woke up Tuesday morning in his central Florida home, it was just a normal day. But it soon became anything but thanks to an alligator that appeared in his yard, his efforts to humanely do without the workhorse, and the international media storm that followed a viral video (see below) of the incident. We caught up with him on Friday morning to find out why he left Philly in the first place last year and where he’s going from here.

Eugene Bozzi aka Abdul Gene Malik, who threw an alligator in a trash can in Florida this week

Eugene Bozzi aka Abdul Gene Malik, who threw an alligator in a trash can in Florida this week (photo courtesy of Eugene Bozzi)

Congratulations on not being dead when you threw this alligator in the trash.
[Laughs] It’s crazy. I did CNN last night. I have South African media calls wanting to talk to me. Just before you I spoke to Miami Herald. That makes a lot.

Well, I appreciate you calling your hometown magazine in the middle of the frenzy. And I’m going to ask you a few questions that other outlets probably haven’t thought to ask. First, how did growing up in Philly prepare you for facing a deadly Florida alligator?
Dude, I was born and raised in the Passyunk projects. I have been through the entire history of DHS. I lived in the 20th and Montgomery, surrounded by lots of guys who probably wanted to kill me.

But it’s safe to say you’ve never met an alligator in Philly, right? Maybe somewhere other than the zoo?
That’s it. This is the thing. If I had grown up here, I would know very well that you should not go near an alligator. But I just left Philly in 2020. So when my 11 year old daughter walks in and tells me there’s an alligator outside, I just acted. Honestly, I had no fear. I was just a man protecting his family, and delivered the alligator to its natural habitat.

What were you doing in Philly before you moved to Florida?
I was a bus driver for SEPTA. Seen everything. It’s a hectic work, deal with all these people.

Below, watch Eugene Bozzi trap the alligator in a trash can outside his Florida home. (Video courtesy of Eugène Bozzi)

And why the hell did you move to Florida? You’re not an old man, and I thought Florida was where the old men moved to to retire. Especially older white men.
I have to be honest with you. We left due to the situation in Philly. With the riots of June 2020, there were buildings near my home that were set on fire. And all the gun violence. I understand why people are frustrated, but at the end of the day I have a wife and young children, and I have to look after them. And you have to remember that I am a veteran who served in Afghanistan. So all these bullets and all this destruction, it’s intense. Seeing a car on fire affects me in a way that it might not affect you.

I certainly thank you for your service. How is life in Florida?
These kids can go out and play basketball and football, no problem. They can cycle on the street, and I don’t have to worry about a thing. It’s just a very different place.

And what do you miss the most in Philly?
Oh. The food. Mmmm. Mmmm. Those cheesesteaks at Max’s on North Broad. Food for the soul. The small Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood. But gun violence doesn’t work for me.

If things got better in Philly would you stay here again?
I am neutral on this at the moment. We must once again become the city of brotherly love. All the hatred must stop. Don’t worry about what people are saying on social media. You do you. God will respond to your blessings.

You mentioned working for SEPTA. What are you doing in Florida other than ending up in a viral video with an alligator?
Well, I’m semi-retired, but I was I’m just working to get my CDL, so I can be a truck driver.

The way you said “was”, does that make me think that you might have other plans now that an alligator has entered your life?
I’m currently working on a pitch for Netflix. Please, Netflix. If you want me to be your Black Steve Irwin, it’s me. You wanna put me in Alaska with some grizzly bears? Let’s do it. I’ll put my Philly slang in a shark cage, no problem. I am going to to sleep watch wild animals on Animal Planet.

Hunt king cobras across Southeast Asia?
If there is a check for $ 100,000 behind it, yes. It’s funny, because just over a week ago I was telling myself that I had to find a way to travel the world. Maybe I just did. Maybe this alligator helped me. I am blessed. So blessed.

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