Jake LaMotta, an iconic figure from boxing’s 1950s golden age best known for a brutal six-fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, died on Tuesday, in a nursing home, following complications from pneumonia, his family has announced. He was 95 years old. His wild life and times inspired the Oscar-winning movie Raging Bull. “Rest in peace, Pop,” Christi LaMotta, his daughter’s Facebook post read simply.
Former world middleweight boxing champion, Jake LaMotta’s seventh wife, Denise Baker was the one who disclosed that Jake LaMotta, died in a nursing home following complications from pneumonia.
Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar playing La Motta in the 1980 classic Raging Bull, led the tributes, saying in a statement: “Rest in peace, champ.”
Jake LaMotta’s long life belied a lengthy career in the ring which was notable for some of the most bruising battles the sport has ever seen.
In a career spanning 1941 to 1954, LaMotta racked up a record of 83 victories, 30 of them knockouts, against 19 defeats, according to the boxing statistics website BoxRec.
On June 16, 1949 he scored a knockout win over French boxer Marcel Cerdan to capture the middleweight title. After two successful defences, he lost the belt in 1952 in his sixth bout against Sugar Ray Robinson.
The final fight with Sugar Ray Robinson took place on February 14, 1951, and was dubbed the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.”
LaMotta, his eyes badly swollen and unable to see clearly, refused to go down and endured a savage beating before the contest was stopped in the 13th round with LaMotta clinging onto the ropes.
Sugar Ray Robinson would describe LaMotta as his most durable opponent in the ring. “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought, I never knew anyone who was more aggressive and rough as he,” Robinson said years later.
LaMotta retired in 1954 after a split decision defeat to Billy Kilgore in Miami. Decades later, his remarkable and often violent life story was brought to a wider audience with Martin Scorsese’s spellbinding Raging Bull. The film charted LaMotta’s rise, which included a controversial fight against Billy Fox which he threw under orders from the Mafia, his abusive second marriage, as well as his dramatic post-boxing fall.
In retirement, LaMotta entered the hospitality industry, managing restaurants and bars.
However in 1958 he was arrested and charged with introducing men to an underage girl after a teenager entered his Miami nightclub. He was convicted of pimping and spent six months on a chain gang in Dade County, Florida.
Photo: Jake LaMotta Dies At 95
Later, LaMotta would find fame on the stand-up comedy circuit, breaking down his life into a series of memorable one-liners that revealed a flair for comic timing.
Daughter Christi LaMotta on Tuesday described her father as a “great athlete, he lost his title to one of the best Middleweight Boxers in history, Sugar Ray Robinson.”