Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Jake LaMotta, former boxer whose life was subject of Raging Bull, dies aged 95

Jake LaMotta

Jake LaMotta, former boxer whose life was subject of Raging Bull, dies aged 95

Bryan Armen Graham

Wed 20 September 2017

Jake LaMotta, the Bronx boxer who captured the world middleweight championship in 1949 and whose turbulent life was later the subject of the 1980 film Raging Bull, died on Tuesday because of complications from pneumonia. He was 95.

LaMotta’s longtime fiancée, Denise Baker, said the longtime professional boxer died on Tuesday at Palm Garden of Aventura nursing home in Florida.

Born Giacobbe LaMotta in 1921 on the lower east side of Manhattan, he learned to box at the Coxsackie Reformatory for delinquent youths after being convicted of attempted burglary as a teenager. He went undefeated as an amateur upon release and entered the professional ranks aged 19 in 1941.

Known as the Bronx Bull for a relentless, pressure fighting style that compensated for a lack of concussive power, LaMotta emerged in an era rich with middleweight talent, scoring notable wins over Fritzie Zivic, Tony Janiro and Bob Satterfield.

In February 1943, he beat Sugar Ray Robinson in the second of their six bouts, knocking the sport’s all-time greatest pound-for-pound fighter through the ropes and winning a 10-round decision. It was Robinson’s first defeat in 41 pro fights and last until his 133rd, nearly a decade later.

He captured the title from France’s Marcel Cerdan a few weeks before his 28th birthday and defended it twice before he was stopped by Robinson in the 13th round of their fateful sixth meeting, the famed St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

“I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes,” LaMotta later quipped.

He fought 10 more times after losing the title, winning just five, and was knocked down for the first and only time in his career during a loss to light heavyweight Danny Nardico on New Year’s Eve 1952. LaMotta retired in 1954 with a record of 83 victories, including 30 by knockout, with 19 defeats and four draws.

After walking away from boxing, LaMotta worked as a bar and nightclub owner and later in the film industry, appearing in 15 films including The Hustler with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. His 1970 memoir Raging Bull: My Story was the basis for the 1980 film Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro.

“Rest in Peace, Champ,” De Niro said in a statement on Wednesday.

Two sons, Jake Jr and Joseph, predeceased him. LaMotta is survived by Baker, and by four daughters, Jacklyn, Christi, Elisa and Mia.


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