Sunday 25 February 2018

Boxer Jake 'The Raging Bull' LaMotta who inspired Hollywood film dies aged 95

One to beat: Robert De Niro won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.
One to beat: Robert De Niro won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.

Gareth A Davies

Boxing great Jake LaMotta – whose life and career was immortalised by actor Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull – has died at the age of 95, his family announced.

“Jake LaMotta July 10, 1922 – September 19, 2017 – Rest in Peace Pop,” his daughter Christi wrote on Facebook late on Tuesday.

Giacobbe “Jake” LaMotta was once world middleweight champion, and was nicknamed “The Raging Bull” for his aggressiveness and toughness.

LaMotta had six fights with fellow legend Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many to be the best all-round fighter of all time. LaMotta was victorious in only one of those fights.

Jake LaMotta was nicknamed “The Raging Bull” for his toughness in the ring CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Jake LaMotta was nicknamed “The Raging Bull” for his toughness in the ring CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

“The three toughest fighters I fought were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times I’m surprised I’m not diabetic,” he said famously.

Don Chargin, the 89-year-old promoter who was a friend of LaMotta's, told the Daily Telegraph that the old fighter “had driven the cast and crew crazy” during the making of Raging Bull in 1980 through his insistence on accuracy. LaMotta was on set every day during the making of the movie, one of the greatest biopics ever in the sport.

Former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta poses in New York on October 28, 2009. LaMotta learned to fight with an ice pick in his hand in a Bronx schoolyard, battering all the way in later life to a world middleweight title in an era of 15-round fights. REUTERS/Teddy Blackburn/File Photo
Former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta poses in New York on October 28, 2009. LaMotta learned to fight with an ice pick in his hand in a Bronx schoolyard, battering all the way in later life to a world middleweight title in an era of 15-round fights. REUTERS/Teddy Blackburn/File Photo

LaMotta was born in the New York Bronx in the early 1920s to Italian immigrant parents. He became a professional boxer at 19, and fought most of his career as a middleweight.

His career highlights included the rivalry with Robinson, but he did however, win the world middleweight title in 1949, defeating Marcel Cerdan.

After retiring from the ring, LaMotta continued to entertain as a comedian, actor, and bar manager. His credits include played a bartender in the 1961 film The Hustler, starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason.

In 1970, LaMotta had written his memoir, titled 'Raging Bull: My Story,' which later inspired the feature film, with De Niro playing LaMotta.

De Niro won an Academy Award for the part. Scorsese’s movie also won an Oscar for editing, and was nominated for six other awards, including best picture and best director.

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