(Boxing) Jake LaMotta: brawler and bully in the ringSports | 21 Sep 2017 3:51 pm
Jake LaMotta, an iron-fisted battler who brawled his way to a middleweight title and was later memorialized by Robert De Niro in the film "Raging Bull,'' has died. He was 95.
The former middleweight champion (left, seen fighting Marcel Cedran on June 16, 1949 in the US), died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia, according to his longtime fiancee, Denise Baker.
LaMotta handed Sugar Ray Robinson his first defeat and reigned for nearly two years as middleweight champion during a time boxing was one of America's biggest sports. He was a fan favorite who fought with fury, though he admitted to once intentionally losing a fight to get in line for a title bout.
LaMotta gained fame with a new generation because of the 1980 film based loosely on his autobiography from a decade earlier. De Niro won an Academy Award playing the troubled boxer - violent both inside and outside the ring - in a Martin Scorsese film that several critics have ranked as among the top 100 movies ever made.
"Rest in Peace, Champ,'' De Niro said in a statement.
"Jake LaMotta was a champ,'' said Scorsese. "He was, as they say, larger than life. He lived a tough life, with a lot to over come, but that's exactly what he did. I'm glad to have had the chance to know him.''
The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts, in a career that began in 1941 and ended in 1954. 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.
"I'm no angel,'' he said in a 2005 interview with The Associated Press.-AP