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Giacobbe LaMotta (born July 10, 1921), better known as Jake LaMotta, nicknamed "The Bronx Bull" and "The Raging Bull", is a former boxing world middleweight champion who was famously portrayed by Robert De Niro in the film Raging Bull.


Early life

LaMotta was born in New York Citymarker, in the borough of The Bronxmarker, near the Pelham Parkway and Morris Park area. He was forced by his father into fighting other children to entertain neighborhood adults, who threw pocket change into the ring. Jake's father collected the money and used it to help pay rent.

In 1941, at the age of 19, LaMotta turned professional. He was also the first man to knock down and beat Sugar Ray Robinson in his career.

Boxing records

LaMotta, who compiled a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and four draws with 30 wins by way of knockout, was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson, knocking him down in the first round and outpointing him over the course of 10 rounds during the second fight of their legendary six-bout rivalry.

On 14 November, 1947, he was knocked out in four rounds by Billy Fox. The New York State Athletic Commission withheld purses for the fight and suspended LaMotta. The fight with Fox would come back to haunt LaMotta later in life, during a hearing with the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker.

In the testimony and his later book, LaMotta admitted to throwing the fight in order to gain favor with the Mafia. All involved agreed the fix was obvious and their staging inept. As LaMotta wrote,
The first round, a couple of belts to his head, and I see a glassy look coming over his eyes.
Jesus Christ, a couple of jabs and he's going to fall down?
I began to panic a little.
I was supposed to be throwing a fight to this guy, and it looked like I was going to end up holding him on his feet ...
By [the fourth round], if there was anybody in the Garden who didn't know what was happening, he must have been dead drunk."
The thrown fight and a payment of $20,000 to the Mafia got LaMotta his title bout against Marcel Cerdan.

Boxing career

LaMotta won the world title in 1949 in Detroitmarker against Frenchman Marcel Cerdan, who was the world champion. Cerdan, called by many boxing critics the greatest champion ever from France, dislocated his arm in the first round and gave up before the start of the 10th. The official score had LaMotta as winner by a knockout in 10 rounds because the bell had already rung to begin that round when Cerdan announced he was quitting. A rematch was arranged, but while Cerdan was flying back to the United Statesmarker to fight the rematch, his Air France Lockheed Constellation crashed at the Azores, killing everyone on board. LaMotta met two challengers (Tiberio Mitri and Laurent Dauthuille) and beat them, and then he was challenged by Robinson for their rivalry's sixth fight. Held on February 14, 1951, the fight became known as boxing's version of The St. Valentine's Day Massacremarker. Robinson won by a technical knockout in the 13th round, when the fight was stopped with LaMotta lying on the ropes. In 1960, LaMotta was called to testify before a U.S. Senate sub-committee that was looking at underworld influence on the boxing game. LaMotta testified that he had thrown his bout with Billy Fox so the mob would arrange a title bout for him.

In the mid-1950s, LaMotta suffered from a boxing injury and took time off to recover. He was always interested in baseball and decided to form the Jake LaMotta All-Star team. They played in Sterling Oval which was located between 165th and 164th Streets between Clay and Teller Avenue in the Bronx. He also held professional fights at that field, and his brother Joey often fought there.

Post-boxing

After retirement, LaMotta bought a few bars and became a stage actor and stand up comedian. He also appeared in over 15 motion pictures, including The Hustler, with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. LaMotta played a bartender.

Fighting style

Jake LaMotta is recognized as having one of the best chins in boxing. He rolled with punches, minimizing their force and damage when they landed, but he was also able to absorb many blows. He was one of the first boxers to adopt the physical "bully" style of fighting, in that he always stayed physically close and in punching range of his opponent, by stalking him around the ring, and sacrificed taking punches himself in order to land his own shots. Due to his aggressive, unrelenting style he was soon dubbed "The Bronxmarker Bull" by fans and journalists alike. LaMotta boasted "No son-of-a-bitch ever knocked me off my feet". This claim was proved false though at the hands of Danny Nardico who floored Jake into the ropes and nearly out of the ring late in their fight in December 1952.

Raging Bull

Hollywood executives approached LaMotta with the idea of a movie about his life, based on LaMotta's 1970 memoir Raging Bull: My Story. The film, Raging Bull, was initially only a minor box office success, but eventually became a huge critical success both for director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro, who gained about 60 pounds (27 kg) during the shooting of the film to play the older LaMotta in the scenes of his later life.

To portray the younger LaMotta, De Niro trained with the real LaMotta until LaMotta felt he was ready to box professionally. De Niro lived in Parismarker for three months eating at the finest restaurants in order to gain the sufficient weight to portray LaMotta after retirement. De Niro received an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance.

The movie depicted a violent and self-destructive LaMotta, who once even went as far as beating his own brother, manager Joey LaMotta, accusing him of having an affair with his (Jake's) then-wife, Vickie LaMotta (in real life, this altercation happened between LaMotta and his best friend Pete, not his brother Joey. The Joey character in the film is an amalgam to simplify the narrative.)

Later life

In February 1984 he signed with the management company Cipriano Enterprises Limited - L'Etoile Talent Agency, where Chairman, Rob Cipriano managed a return for LaMotta to the stage and screen. Cipriano produced "Portrait Of A Champ-The Real Raging Bull" for LaMotta. Chris Anderson, Sharon McGehee and Delia Fernandez-Rey (Refugees on the Run) directed and co-produced this shocking portrait a champ. Cipriano also created Puppy Love a sitcom for Jake, Vivian Blaine and Pat Cooper. Jake would play the punch-drunk lovable janitor at a pet store owned by Pat Cooper and Vivian Blaine.

In February 1998, his elder son, Jake LaMotta, Jr., died of liver cancer.

In September 1998, his younger son, Joseph LaMotta, died in the crash of Swissair Flight 111marker off the coast of Nova Scotiamarker, Canadamarker.

LaMotta has been married at least six times, and has four daughters: including Christi (by second wife Vikki) and daughter Stephanie (by fourth wife Dimitria).

His nephew, John LaMotta, was a member of the Golden Gloves championship tournament.

LaMotta has been active on the speaking and autograph circuit, and has published several books about his career, his wife, and his fights with Robinson.

He is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Famemarker.

He was ranked 52nd on Ring Magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years. Ring Magazine also ranked him as one of the 10 greatest middleweights of all-time.

References




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