No, Mock Duck is not an item on the menu of a Chinese restaurant, but rather the name of one of the most notorious Chinese gangsters to ever set foot in America.
Real name, Sai Wing Mock, Mock Duck, was born in China in 1879. In the late 1890’s,he traveled to the United States, and immediately took residence in New York City’s Chinatown, where he joined the Hip Sing Tong, a small group of Chinese gangsters led by Lem Tong Sing. At the time, Chinatown was controlled by the powerful On Leong Tong, whose boss was the murderous Tom Lee. Soon, Duck pushed aside Lem Tong Sing as leader of the Hip Sing Tong, and he took control himself. His first act as boss was to demand fifty percent of the profits from Tom Lee’s On Leong Tong. This did not sit well with Lee, and as a result, the Tong Wars of the early 1900’s started in full force.
Duck, knowing his Hip Sing Tong couldn’t compete in total gang members against the On Leong Tong, joined forces with the Four Brother’s Society, to even up the numbers a bit. Still, the Tong Wars became a bloody mess for three decades, with many casualties on all sides.
On January, 24, 1906, as a group of On Leong Tong members exited a building at 32 Pell Street, a dozen Hip Sing Tong members jumped from an alley on Doyers Street and fired as many as hundred rounds of ammunition at their rivals. Two On Leong Tong members were killed and two were injured. This rampage was reportedly planned by Duck, who ordered murders to be done, but very rarely got involved in the killings himself. The one exception was when in 1900, Duck allegedly murdered a New Jersey tailor named Ah See in front of 23 Mott Street. Duck was tried three times for this murder but was never convicted.
Duck lived in a top floor apartment with his family at 21 Pell Street, in the heart of Chinatown. The rest of the apartments in this building also housed Hip Sing Tong members. There had been several attempts on Duck’s life, so he was forced to wear a “chain mail” vest, in addition to always carrying two guns and a small hatchet for protection, just in case. He narrowly escaped death, when on January 12, 1912, two On Leong Tong members walked calmly into an apartment at 21 Pell Street, and opened fire at a group of Hip Sing Tong members as they played a game of fan-tan, killing Lung You, one of Duck’s top henchman. Luckily for Duck, he was out of the building at the time, and was not a victim of the shooting, which was obviously intended for him.
Duck was finally arrested by the police in 1912 for the minor crime of running a “policy game,” more commonly known as the “numbers racket.” He was sentenced to two years in Sing Sing Prison, and when he was released in 1914, he returned to Chinatown and assumed a very low profile in the Hip Sing Tong. He briefly surfaced in the news in 1932, when he, in conjunction with the American and Chinese governments, arranged a truce, officially ending the Chinatown Tong Wars.
Unlike most of his fellow Chinese Tong members, Duck died of natural causes, in his Brooklyn home in 1941.