It is our sad duty to report the passing of the legendary former world boxing champion Jake LaMotta.
The former world middleweight boxing champion died in a nursing home due to complications from pneumonia, his wife told US news site TMZ;
“I just want people to know, he was a great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humour, with eyes that danced,” Mrs LaMotta said.
Most film fans will recognise his name from the 1980 film of his life, Raging Bull. The biopic directed by Martin Scorsese, earned its lead actor Robert De Niro a Best Actor Oscar and is widely regarded as not just one of the greatest films of the 1980s, but an all time classic of the highest order. In the lead up to the filming of Raging Bull, LaMotta spent nearly a year personally training De Niro to box in a New York City gym. Speaking to ESPN about the film he said;
“When I saw the film I was upset. I kind of look bad in it. Then I realised it was true. That’s the way it was… It’s not the way I am now, but the way I was then.”
Born on 10 July 1922 to Italian parents in the Bronx area of New York City, he took up boxing after being rejected by the US military due to a medical condition. His fortitude inside the ropes earned him the nickname “The Bronx Bull”. Sports commentators often praised his unique bravery and strength and he was often willing to take a severe beating just to get close enough to land his dynamite punches on his opponent. His powerful combination attacks and furious style were enough to even hand the renowned Sugar Ray Robinson his first ever defeat in 1943, just two years after LaMotta had turned professional.
According to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, his career record was 83 wins, 19 losses, 4 draws, and 30 knockouts.
“The truth of the matter?” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in 1996. “The punches never hurt me.
My nose was broken six times, my hands six times, a few fractured ribs. Fifty stitches over my eyes. But the only place I got hurt was out of the ring.”
After retiring from Boxing, LaMotta became a stand up comedian and starred in several films. He was 95 years old and until his passing, was the oldest living former world champion. Rest in peace champ.