The Raging Bull
“The three toughest fighters I've ever been up against were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times, I'm surprised I'm not diabetic! But I did have him off the canvas once...when he stepped over my body to leave the ring.” Jake LaMotta
Jake LaMotta became famous for being the first man to defeat the famed Sugar Ray Robinson. Known for his power to take punches, LaMotte knocked his rival down in the first round and went on to outscore him over the course of ten rounds during the second fight of their well-known six bout competition. LaMotta rose to the peak of his success in 1949 when he became the middleweight champion after beating the Frenchman Marcel Cerdan. He lost the crown to Robinson in their last bout in 1951. LaMotta took part in several more fights before eventually retiring in 1954. Nicknamed “The Bronx Bull” and “The Raging Bull,” LaMotta was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1986. Four years later, he became one of the inductees of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
After his retirement, LaMotta became a businessman and then an actor. His film credits include “The Hustler” (1961), “House in Naples” (1970), “Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name” (1973), “Firepower” (1979), “Hangmen” (1987), “Mob War” (1989) and “Blue Vengeance” (1992). In 1980, he was played by Robert De Niro in the critically-acclaimed biopic “Raging Bull,” adapted from his 1970 memoir, “Raging Bull: My Story.”
Currently, LaMotta resides in New York City. According to an article in London's The Times newspaper, the six-time divorcee is reportedly engaged to hair stylist Denise Baker. His romantic life was once also linked to actresses Hedi Lamar and Jayne Mansfield. LaMotta is the uncle of producer/director/actor William Lustig and John LaMotta, who was a member of the Golden Gloves championship tournament.
Childhood and Family:
Giacobe LaMotta, professionally known as Jake LaMotta, was born on July 10, 1921, in The Bronx, New York. He grew up developing a volatile temper and made use of his fierce nature to help earn money for his family by fighting local kids for the entertainment of adults. It was his father who arranged the fights and the money that spectators would throw into the ring was often used to pay the rent. Later, Jack was sent to reform school after he attempted to rob a jewelry store. At age 19, street smart Jack decided to renew his life and entered the world of professional boxing.
Jack has been married six times. He married second wife Vicki LaMotta in 1947, but they divorced ten years later in 1957. The couple shares three children.
In 1998, Jack was forced to cope with personal tragedies following the death of his sons Joseph and Jack. Joseph was killed in a plane crash and Jack died of cancer.
Fighting in the streets to help raise money for his family, Jack LaMotta kicked off his career as a professional boxer in 1941 when he was 19 years old. Within two years, he had made a name for himself by becoming the first fighter to defeat the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. LaMotta won the bout that was held in Detroit by decision. Known for their six-fight series, the twosome first met in 1942 in New York, in which Robinson won the fight in a 10-round decision. The rivalry continued the following year when they met in two fights within a three week duration in Detroit, one of which was won by LaMotta. Robinson went on to win the subsequent bouts in New York and Chicago in 1945 in a 10-round decision and a 12-round decision, respectively. LaMotta continued his winning streak by beating such contenders as Fritzie Zivic, Jose Basora, Bob Satterfield, Tony Janiro, George Kochan, Tommy Bell, Bert Lytell and Holman Williams until he fought Billy Fox on November 14, 1947, and was knocked out in four rounds.
Two years later, on June 16, 1949, LaMotta experienced a huge breakthrough when he challenged world champ Marcel Cerdan for the middleweight championship and won the title through a 10-round TKO. A rematch was arranged, but was canceled following the death of Cerdan in an airplane crash. After successfully defending his title against Tiberio Mitri and Laurent Dauthuille in 1950, LaMotta embarked on his last match against longtime rival Sugar Ray Robinson in a title fight held in February 1951. The bout saw Robinson take the world title from LaMotta, who was defeated by a technical knockout in the thirteenth round.
After the loss, LaMotta was seen in six more fights during 1952 before taking a year-long hiatus in 1953. He resurfaced the following year, but retired after completing three fights. By this time, LaMotta had accumulated a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and 4 draws with 30 wins by way of knockout.
After hanging up his gloves, LaMotta briefly operated a night-club on Miami Beach called Jake Lamotta's and tried his hand at acting. A stage actor and stand-up comedian, he had his first taste in front of the film cameras in 1961 when he was cast as Julio in the independent drama “Rebellion in Cuba.” He continued to appear in eight more movies during the 1960s and the 1970s, including the Paul Newman vehicle “The Hustler” (1961), “The Doctor and the Playgirl” (1963), “Confessions of a Psycho Cat” (1968), “House in Naples” (1970), “Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name” (1973) and “Firepower” (1979).
LaMotta returned to the spotlight in 1980 when his life was made into a film by director Martin Scorsese. “Raging Bull,” based on “Raging Bull: My Story” (1970), a book penned by LaMotta, initially enjoyed minor success at the box office but turned out to be a massive critical success and won actor Robert De Niro an Oscar for portraying LaMotta. Lured by the success of the film, LaMotta launched the second sequel of his memoirs, “Raging Bull II,” in 1986. He also resumed his film career the following year with a supporting role in the action/thriller “Hangmen,” directed by J. Christian Ingvordsen. It was followed by “Maniac Cop,” starring Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, in 1988 and “Mob War,” starring as Don Ricci, in 1989.
In 1992, LaMotta acted in the independent film “Blue Vengeance.” He did not appear in another film until five years later when he was seen in “Question d'honneur” (1997), a 14-minute French short directed by Richard Aujard. After a series of personal tragedies in 1998, he kept busy making personal appearances and participating in autograph shows.
Middleweight Champion: 1949