Sivusto ei tue käyttämääsi selainta. Suosittelemme selaimen päivittämistä uudempaan versioon.

Algoth Niska was a famous Finnish bootlegger, footballer, and adventurer, known as the "bootlegger king".

Niska was born in the Finnish city of Vyborg in 1888, and then moved with his family to Helsinki in 1903, where he got interested in football. He played in the Finnish national team in the Summer Olympics of 1912 in Stockholm.

Algoth Niska's father Ivar was a sea captain and the headmaster of the Vyborg seafaring school. Algoth joined his first ship in 1908 and went into navigation school during the First World War. Work onboard the commercial vessels took him all the way to Cuba.

In 1919, Finland enacted prohibition, and Niska acquired a large supply of now-illegal liquor. He became the unofficial supplier to the high society of Helsinki, and when the original supply ran out, he started to smuggle alcohol by his boat from the large Estonian and German vessels who were waiting for the fast bootlegger boats outside the Finnish territorial waters. Once he unloaded his cargo right in the heart of Helsinki while people were watching the royal visit of Gustav V, king of Sweden. Later he smuggled liquor also in the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden.

Niska was eventually wanted both in Finland and Sweden. He was sentenced for short periods, and in prison he became a model prisoner and was often released early for good behavior. Finland ended probation in 1932 ending also Niska's profitable liquor business. Niska said later that he never shot at officials or opposed them.

In 1938, prior to World War II, Niska begun to smuggle Jewish refugees from Germany to the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, and Finland, using forged passports. The Gestapo in Germany found out about his network and in 1939 he fled to Estonia, only to learn that the country had been occupied by the Soviet Union, so he continued to Finland on a rowing boat. The gentleman smuggler spoke at least Finnish, Swedish, German and English.

The Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939, dragging Finland into the Second World War. Niska, in his fifties, worked for both the Finnish and Swedish military intelligence arranging people and money transfers between the occupied Baltic countries , Finland, and Sweden. After the war Niska set for a round-the-world sailing journey multiple times but his adventurer's luck started to run out, his boats and crews failing.

Algoth Niska died of brain tumor in 1954.