Motorcycle gangs around the country have gotten their names from a wide variety of sources. Here are 10 of the baddest.
The Cossacks were formed in Texas in the late 1960s. The real Cossacks were a "warlike" people from southern European Russia and were known for their horse-riding skills, especially during the reign of the Russian Empire from the early 18th to the early 20th centuries. According to The Heavy, the Cossacks MC claim to have traded the Cossack warriors’ horses "of 400 years ago" for motorcycles, which is certainly a different kind of horsepower.
The word Cossack comes from the Turkish quzzāq, meaning "adventurer, guerrilla."
The Mongols, a Latino gang, were established in 1969 in East L.A. In 2008, they were subject to a sting dubbed Operation Black Rain, in which members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ran a three-year undercover investigation that led to dozens of arrests for everything from drug sales to murder.
And about their name? According to their (pretty snazzy) website, it's derived from the Mongol Empire, which of course was led by that famous badass, Genghis Khan. Not only did the ancient leader unite the nomadic tribes north of China into what is now Mongolia, he was responsible for as many as 40 million deaths (which, some say, led to Pax Mongolica, a long time of peace in much of Asia) and fathered so many children that to this day one in 200 men are his direct descendants.
Described as the "baddest of the bads," the Bandidos were founded in Texas in 1966. One of the largest motorcycle clubs (or MCs) in the U.S., the gang is considered an outlaw or one-percenter MC. What's a one-percenter? The amount distinguished from the 99 percent of MCs that are law-abiding, according to the American Motorcycle Association. The Bandidos were named by founder Donald Chambers in honor of the Mexican bandits he admired.
The ancient gods have also been an inspiration for hog-riders. This Canadian MC is named for the Greek god of wine. Bacchus also refers to wine and liquor itself. The festival honoring the god is known as the Bacchanalia, which is also a drunken revelry or orgy.
5. LOS PIRADOS
Like the Bandidos, Los Pirados are a member of the United Clubs of Waco—and call themselves crazy. No, literally: the word pirados translates from Spanish as “freaks” or “nuts.” The Spanish word for crazy, pirado, might ultimately come from the Greek pyr, meaning "fire."
The Mobs***ters, in addition to having perhaps the best MC name, originated in 1970 in New South Wales, Australia. They’re best known for their connection to the 1984 Milperra Massacre, which was sparked by a rivalry between the Comancheros and a group that had left the Comancheros to form the first Bandidos MC in the land down under.
Where the name comes from, however, we’re not sure. Mobs is an Australian slang term that means a whole bunch, a gang of workmen, or a group of aborigines or Maoris. The word mob also refers to a gang of criminals or thieves. S***ter is self-explanatory.
Bikie, by the way, is the Australian and New Zealand equivalent for biker, or motorcyclist, as in: "The NSW police are still seeking a member of the Bandido bikie gang over the Milperra Massacre on September 2."
7. PISSED OFF BASTARDS OF BLOOMINGTON
The Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington, or POBOB, is one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the country. Established in 1945 in Bloomington, a small town near San Bernardino, California, POBOB is also known as the Pissed Off Bastards of Berdoo, a nickname for San Bernardino.
POBOB gained notoriety with its involvement in the 1947 Hollister riot, famously immortalized in the 1953 Marlon Brando movie, The Wild One. However, the "riot" was more of a drunken melee that began when inebriated members of another California MC, the Boozefighters, rode their motorcycles into a bar. After the Hollister riot, a prominent POBOB member broke off and started his own club. You may have heard of it: the Hells Angels.
8. HELLS ANGELS
The Hells Angels (that’s non-possessive, by the way) was formed in 1948. A founder named the infamous one-percenter for his World War II squadron, the Hell’s Angels of the Flying Tigers, an American Volunteer Group that flew in China during the war. That squadron was named for a 1930 Howard Hughes film about combat pilots in World War I. While the Hells Angels are certainly the most famous MC, they are considered "too nice" by the Bandidos.
Definitely not the Harry Potter kind. This MC came about in 1967. Based mainly in Pennsylvania and Florida, the Warlocks engage in various unsavory activities, including dealing methamphetamine. While to most of us the word warlock means a male witch, its oldest meaning is "oath-breaker" and traitor. Other old-timey warlock meanings include a wicked person, a damned soul in hell, the Devil himself, any devil or demon, or a savage or monstrous creature.
10. SATAN'S SIDEKICKS
In addition to being an excellent gang name, Satan’s Sidekicks is an all-black MC based in Detroit. Founded around the 1970s, they were involved in a 1979 shoot-out that resulted in three deaths, including the Sidekicks' leader at the time, James "Pepper Red" Evans II.
Another group named Satan’s Sidekicks was a squadron that served during the Korean War. We’re not sure if there’s any connection, but naming an MC after a military crew would certainly fit the pattern of the rise of motorcycle culture and mirror some of the above-mentioned club names after the return of soldiers from war.