Jake LaMotta - the inspiration for 'Raging Bull' - has died aged 95
Sep 21 2017
The former middleweight champion died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia, according to his longtime fiancee, Denise Baker. The film earned eight Academy Awards nominations including Best Picture - it lost to Ordinary People - and the first Best Director nom for Scorsese. It vividly depicts LaMotta's struggles in his career, as well as some of the domestic violence that the boxer has admitted to perpetrating. Thelma Schoonmaker won for Best Film Editing, her first of three Oscars for Scorsese films.
In the ring, his fury was an asset.
"He grew up in poverty on New York's Lower East Side". Due to an erroneous newspaper report, LaMotta went several years thinking he had beaten a bookie to death in a robbery.
The tough slugger was a middleweight champion and fought boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson six times, becoming the first to defeat him in 1943. And while middleweight champion, LaMotta saved his title in a fight he was losing with a desperate 15th-round stoppage over Quebec-based Laurent Dauthuille. The New York State Athletic Commission suspended LaMotta and withheld purses for the fight after Fox knocked him out in four rounds.
LaMotta was known for his chin, meaning he not only dished out punishment but could also take it more than most.
A major black mark on LaMotta's career came in 1947 when it was suspected that he threw a fight to Billy Fox. Most notably, LaMotta would be pounded relentlessly by Robinson in a February 14, 1951, a bout that became known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
"They called it the St. Valentine's Day Massacre", he said. The fight was stopped in the 13th round.
"If the referee held up another 30 seconds, Robinson would have collapsed from hitting me".
His 1970 biography Raging Bull: My Story was adapted into the 1980 movie starring De Niro in the lead role. I was supposed to be throwing a fight to this guy and it looked like I was going to end up holding him on his feet.
Fans and fellow boxers took to Twitter to remember LaMotta.
"When I saw the film I was upset", LaMotta told an interviewer. By 19, LaMotta had honed his skills enough to go pro.