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Underworld Commando

Story: Richard Lancaster | Photo: Bruce Redman
Published On : Sep 28, 2021
Underworld Commando
A few years ago, in a quiet Scarborough street, an extremely fit, warm, friendly middle-aged man realised a lifelong ambition. He established a fitness centre, Trainers on the Bay, in which he would conduct keep-fit classes for the community.

In the process, he created an entirely new persona for himself, leaving behind more than a decade of major criminal activity - a story he has now written.

Dimitri Nicholas, or Jim Taousanis as he used to be known, featured prominently in the Channel 9 Underbelly television series, which exposed the crime and unhinged violence of Sydney’s criminal underworld in the 1980s and early 90s.

Nicholas worked as ‘muscle’ for Sydney major crime bosses like Lenny MacPherson, George Freeman, Branco Balic and Con Kontorinakis. He rubbed shoulders with the recently deceased Arthur `Neddy` Smith, and jailed cop Roger Rogerson. He spent time in prison and had four attempts on his life, one of which was so serious that he was placed on the dangerously ill list in hospital for weeks.

Nicholas was born in Germany to Greek parents, with the family moving to Australia in 1967. Like many migrant children, he became the butt of bullying and racial taunting at school and found that his fists were the only answer.

Self-preservation led him into boxing gyms, learning boxing and karate. Joining the State Railways Department, he started developing a promising engineering career, but the lure of greater excitement in the Army prompted a career change and he enlisted in 1986.

He joined Intelligence and achieved his ultimate ambition - becoming a member of the elite Australian Army’s 1st Commando Special Services section.

But those special military skills were very attractive to Sydney’s crime cartels, and by the 1980s he had been recruited with the promise of easy money and a great lifestyle.

After a decade, the clang of a prison door ended it all. His new-found respectability has prompted him to write his revealing life story. His book Underworld Commando is available from Trainers on the Bay or you can purchase online at