Jake LaMotta Dies: 'Raging Bull' Boxer Was 95

Isaac Cain
September 21, 2017

Upon the news of LaMotta's passing, De Niro released a statement to ABC News, saying simply: "Rest in Peace, Champ".

The New York-born fighter had 106 professional bouts and earned his "Bronx Bull" nickname for the rough-house style which took him to the world middleweight title.

He began boxing in 1941 after he wasn't allowed to serve in the military due to a medical issue.

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He turned pro in 1941 at age 19, and one year later he was facing Robinson in NY for the first of a legendary six-fight series. In 1990, it was named to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, which honors works that are considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Then, on February 5, 1943, LaMotta handed Robinson his first loss after 40 pro victories, knocking him out of the ring before winning a 10-round decision in a Detroit fight that had promoters scrambling for a rematch. "Somebody, somebody up there is trying to tell me something", he said. His life and career was immortalized by the movie "Raging Bull", in which Robert De Niro played the champion. Jake LaMotta died at 95 years of age September 19, 2017.

"I fought Sugar so many times, I'm surprised I'm not diabetic", he said in a line that he would use often. Trailing badly, LaMotta knocked out the challenger with 13 seconds left. His rivalry against Sugar Ray Robinson throughout the 1940s is still regarded as one of the greatest boxing rivalries in the history of the sport, the last of which is still known to this day as boxing's own version of the St. Valentines Day Massacre. According to ESPN, LaMotta held the middleweight title between 1949 and 1951. He lost five of six fights with the consensus all-time pound-for-pound king, all but one those defeats extremely narrow. Then I realized that it was the truth. De Niro, meanwhile, famously packed on over 50 pounds to depict LaMotta in middle age. But it was the movie that unflinchingly portrayed him as a violent and abusive husband - he was married six times - that is remembered even more.

He had four daughters and two sons, both deceased, and continued to live in NY, where he owned restaurants and even enjoyed a brief career as a stand-up comedian.

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