We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now


Jake LaMotta, real boxing Raging Bull

24 September 2017 - 00:00 By The Daily Telegraph

Jake LaMotta, the former world middleweight boxing champion who died on Tuesday at the age of 95, was raised on some of the meanest streets in New York and established himself as one of the most renowned pugilistic warriors by bringing his natural penchant for violence to the ring.
Immortalised in 1980 by the Oscar-winning film Raging Bull, starring Robert de Niro, LaMotta was world champion from 1949 to 1951. In 1943 he had become the first man to defeat Sugar Ray Robinson on his way to a record of 83 wins - 30 were by knockout - 19 losses and four draws.
Giacobbe LaMotta was born in New York on July 10 1922. He began boxing at an early age when his father forced him to fight other neighbourhood children for the entertainment of his friends. After reform school, he turned professional at 19. His 13-year career was largely defined by his six-fight series with Robinson. "I fought Sugar Ray so many times it's a wonder I don't have diabetes," he later reflected.
But LaMotta was never able to repeat the victory over Robinson in five other encounters and found his reputation tarnished after he admitted having taken a dive against "Blackjack" Billy Fox in 1947 in order to secure a world title shot.
During a tempestuous private life LaMotta was married six times. When his fighting days were over, he became a stage actor and stand-up comedian. When his life story was portrayed in Raging Bull, LaMotta told his second wife, Vikki, who had divorced him in 1957, that he "couldn't have been that bad", to which she retorted: "That's right - you were worse." 

Support the Sunday Times by buying a subscription.

You’ve always trusted us to help you navigate the world. Support the Sunday Times by becoming a premium member for only R80 (digital access) and keep the conversation going. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Digital access for only R80

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.