As he climbed back into his black Mercedes after finishing a workout at his gym, bikie prince Mick Hawi was missing something.

Just 3km from his home in the southern Sydney suburb of Bexley, the former boss of the powerful Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang was alone.

It was just after 12pm on Thursday. Unbeknown to Hawi, who had cheated death before, two masked assassins were lying in wait.

Two men fleeing the scene of a fatal shooting outside a Fitness First gym in Rockdale, Sydney. Photo / AAP
Two men fleeing the scene of a fatal shooting outside a Fitness First gym in Rockdale, Sydney. Photo / AAP

Whereas once Hawi travelled in bulletproof cars after a previous attack when assassins shot at his moving vehicle, his luxury four wheel drive is not believed to have been specially protected.

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The one-time flashy bikie war lord, who favoured smart suits and diamond and gold jewellery, lived more quietly these days with his glamorous wife and children in suburbia.

Still handsome but less conspicuous than in his prime as the Comanchero's national president, the Beirut-born Hawi was presumed to have left behind his dangerous life and living on amassed riches.

But the 37-year-old was not completely without fear for his safety.

Usually he travelled with a bodyguard detail, three or four big men shadowing him, including on simple trips to the gym.

"He usually comes with his security guard," a gym-goer, surprised he had come alone, told the Daily Telegraph.


Hawi had also been keeping "under the radar" and may have simply said the wrong thing to the wrong person, police told Fairfax.

Inexplicably, Hawi also made a final fatal mistake. He wound down the driver's seat window of his 4WD.

At that moment a gunman dressed in black and wearing a balaclava moved into close range at the right of Hawi's car and emptied at least six rounds into his face and neck.

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Shot at close range, Hawi suffered immediate, traumatic blood loss and went into cardiac arrest.

Mick Hawi's wife, Carolina Gonzaelz posted a tribute picture of her husband and herself on Facebook. Photo / via Facebook
Mick Hawi's wife, Carolina Gonzaelz posted a tribute picture of her husband and herself on Facebook. Photo / via Facebook

Taken on the six minute drive by ambulance to St George Hospital, he was pronounced brain dead and hours later, life extinct.

As police said, it was unclear whether Hawi was assassinated as payback for his past sins, or revenge by an organised crime group for more recent clandestine activity.

"It could be as easy as him saying something to the wrong person," a senior police source told Fairfax.

It was a very different story at the height of Hawi's powers, 2009 when Sydney was in the grip of bikie shootings and wars between rival outlaw groups.

The then 28-year-old had all the trappings of the successful bikie: wealth, power, a stunning wife, two children and a reputation for cheating death.

Former Comanchero bikie boss Mahmoud 'Mick' Hawi arrives at the NSW Supreme Court, in Sydney in 2014. Photo / AAP
Former Comanchero bikie boss Mahmoud 'Mick' Hawi arrives at the NSW Supreme Court, in Sydney in 2014. Photo / AAP

In March 2009, a violent and fatal brawl which broke out in the Sydney Airport domestic terminal was to alter the course of Hawi's charmed life.

On a Sunday afternoon, Anthony "Tony" Zervas, 29, was clubbed with a 17kg metal bollard and stabbed with a pair of scissors.

Zervas had just got off a flight with his brother Peter, a senior Hells Angel, and the president of the Hells Angels Guildford chapter, Derek Wainohu.

The brawl appeared to be a bikie turf war over drugs and money, as it emerged, between the Hells Angels and Hawi's Comanchero.

In the aftermath of the brawl, Mick Hawi stepped forward as the great conciliator calling for calm between the bikie gangs.

But it was Hawi who was convicted and sentenced for the murder of Zervas, and jailed for a maximum of 28 years.

In 2014, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal set aside the conviction and the following year Hawi was released from prison, presumably to return to his charmed life.

Hawi did not step back into his role with the Comanchero and was not, publicly at least, a member.

The scene of a shooting in the car park of Fitness First in Rockdale in Sydney. Photo / AAP
The scene of a shooting in the car park of Fitness First in Rockdale in Sydney. Photo / AAP

Nor did police believe he had any threats against his life.

But the posse of security guards with whom he usually travelled hinted that he might be in danger.

The last time he was attacked, in November 2007, the car Hawi was travelling in was sprayed with bullets outside Grappa Ristorante in the inner Sydney suburb of Leichhardt.

At around 2pm on the busy Italian restaurant strip, two men pumped up to ten shots into an Audi and a Mazda as they sped away.

Hawi later boasted that one bullet round had lodged into his car seat headrest, narrowly missing his head.

On Thursday, Hawi's assassin made sure he was in close enough range to be accurate.

Hawi's wife, Carolina Gonzaelz posted a tribute picture of her husband and herself on Facebook on Friday which has attracted scores of online expressions of condolence.