Tony Zucco ran a racket in Gotham City, in which he offered "protection" from "accidents" to various performing acts and visiting attractions. In truth, however, the ring was extortion; the services offered were merely a protection from the damage that Zucco would otherwise inflict.
When the Haley's Circus visited Gotham for a Wayne Charity event, Zucco paid the circus owner and ringmaster, Mr. Haley, a visit. Haley refused to be intimidated and told Zucco to get out and stay away from his circus. Zucco countered with his own threat, stating Haley would wish he'd taken his offer. At the next performance, Zucco disguised himself as a crew member, and infiltrated the circus tent. He took the aerial ropes in hand and slashed them, weakening the overall durability but not to the extent of notability, as such the crew would inspect them and declare them fit for performance. A 10-year old Dick Grayson, whose parents were acrobats, had been performing in a family act that night. After Dick finished one stunt, he remained perched on a ledge while his parents got ready for another stunt. The combined weight of the two acrobats proved too much for the sabotaged ropes, and they broke, shocking everyone present, but worst of all, Dick watched his parents die in a gruesome manner.
Bruce Wayne took the young Grayson in, and Batman began a savage hunt through Gotham for Zucco. Knowing this, Zucco laid low, taking refuge with his uncle Arnold Stromwell. It didn't take the Dark Knight long to track him down. Batman confronted Stromwell about the circus disaster, to which Stromwell denied his involvement. In the strictest sense, Stromwell was innocent, as he did not participate in the sabotage nor was the murder within the sphere of his organized crime empire and he himself was disgusted by the latter. However, Stromwell correctly surmised that his nephew was responsible, and was fed up with the heat he was taking at the expense of his nephew's extortion scams, which were unauthorized and (in Stromwell's opinion) not worth the trouble for the expected payouts. Arnold Stromwell kicked Tony Zucco out of the crime family and disinherited him, although he did not rat out Zucco to the authorities.
Taking refuge in Gotham's Lower East Side, Zucco made plans to skip town. Though Batman found Zucco, young Dick found him first. During the struggle, Dick fell into the Gotham River, and Batman chose to save the future Boy Wonder's life rather than apprehending Zucco and risking Dick's death. This gave Tony Zucco an opportunity to flee to freedom.
When Batman and Robin broke up a sabotage ring years later, a captured con revealed the man behind the operation, one Billy Marin, an alias for Tony Zucco. Aware of this connection, Batman ostracized Robin from the investigation, pursuing Zucco on his own. Robin, however, wasted little time in discovering who Marin really was, and began his own investigation against Batman's orders.
Batman found Zucco first, but the con managed to get the jump on the Dark Knight. Out of ammunition, Batman (his leg injured from a fall) bought some escape time and took cover in an abandoned amusement park. Methodically, Batman eliminated Zucco's thugs until the big fish himself remained. But before he could apprehend Zucco, Robin arrived. Zucco and Robin engaged each other in a furious fight until Robin gained the upper hand and prepared to take his revenge. Batman protested, and despite his innermost desires, Robin let the police arrest Tony Zucco. In a rare show of emotion, Batman admitted that he forbade Robin from facing Zucco because he was afraid that Robin would be killed.
Equipment and Abilities
Like most mobsters, Tony Zucco relied on guns for his self-defense. He was a physically average male, capable of fighting normal people but out-classed by comparison to the highly trained Batman and Robin. He did have some hired goons on his payroll, although with Zucco's rather poor leadership and limited financial means, his hoods were considered second-rate by other bosses.