Giacobbe LaMotta, more popularly known as Jake LaMotta, was a boxer the likes of which we will never see again. Many claim that he was not the most skilled boxer in the world. But you cannot deny his strength, will, force and innate ability to hit back, even after taking punishment.
He didn’t win many accolades for his fighting style but he did win a lot of fights. His bullish and swarming style got him the name ‘The Raging Bull’. Eventually, he became one of the most popular boxers of all time.
LaMotta passed away this week at the age of 95. May he Rest in Peace.
Jake LaMotta became known around the world thanks to the acclaimed Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull.
“Gimme a stage, where this bull here can rage. And though I can fight, I’d much rather recite, that’s entertainment!”
(From the opening monologue of the film)
LaMotta’s life, both inside and outside of the ring, was the subject of the film.
Many people don’t know LaMotta beyond what was portrayed in that film. We thought it would be an appropriate tribute to let boxing fans know more about the brilliant, and oft-troubled, man that LaMotta was.
Jake LaMotta – Early Years
Jake LaMotta was born in the tough neighborhood of Bronx, New York on July 10, 1922.
Jake was always known to have a temper and that channeled into fighting early in his age. His family struggled with poverty so Jake fought in the streets to earn money and help his family.
These struggles led him to break the law. He tried to rob a store once, which landed him in reform school.
The most useful skills he learned in his early years were taking a beating while staying on his feet and throwing hits of his own.
These skills took him towards his Pro boxing career.
Jake LaMotta – Professional Boxer
At just the age of 19, the rough LaMotta started his Pro boxing career in the middleweight division.
His aggression, brawling and deceptive style of fighting got him a lot of success in the ring. He would feign exhaustion and then surprise his opponent with a surprise attack.
He did not have heavy punching power but his bullish style and relentless punches rained punishment down upon anyone who dared enter the ring with him.
He fought the Sugar Ray Robinson, a true legend in the boxing world, six times. Losing to him in the first match, he became the first fighter to defeat Robinson in their second meeting.
He was always surrounded by controversies thanks to his crude ways and short temper outside of the ring. But there was no denying his skills inside the ring.
He became a middleweight champion when he defeated Marcel Cerdan in 1949.
In his final fight against Robinson, dubbed ‘St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’, Sugar Ray hit LaMotta with everything he had. Jake refused to go down, he kept taking the beating until the referee stopped the fight.
He was heard shouting to Robinson;
“Hey, Ray, I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me, you never got me down.”
That attitude shows what made LaMotta a great fighter. Unrelenting and able to take on whatever his opponents threw at him.
He retired from boxing in 1954 with a record of 83-19-4.
Jake LaMotta – Post-Boxing Life
LaMotta invested in a bar after his retirement.
He was arrested for promotion of prostitution, for which he served 6 months of prison time. He claimed that he was innocent.
More troubles were to follow.
Jake admitted to throwing a fight in front of a Senate subcommittee.
In the 1970s, LaMotta decided to document his struggles and life experiences in a book called Raging Bull: My Story.
It detailed his violent personal life and how was with the people closest to him.
The book was well received because of its raw and unadulterated content. It found its way into the hands of Robert De Niro, who gave it to Martin Scorsese and Raging Bull took shape.
The film showcased the violent and destructive nature of Jake LaMotta and the struggles he faced in his life.
Raging Bull won 2 Oscars and raising the popularity of LaMotta. He capitalized on this attention and released another book Raging Bull 2 in 1986.
Jake LaMotta – Later Years
LaMotta was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
The next decade was the toughest of his life when he lost his two sons.
LaMotta became a standup comedian and appeared in different films in small roles.
The second movie about his life was shot and released in 2013 under the name The Bronx Bull. He also married for the 7th time to actress Denise Baker in the same year.
LaMotta was a flawed man but he fought everything that life threw at him and that is why he got the successes that he did.
He will forever be remembered as the man who refused to believe that he would ever get hurt…
“I was able to convince my body that I could take it and nobody could hurt me. I might’ve gotten cut, stitches over my eyes. Broken nose. Broken hands. But I never really got hurt.”