Giacobbe "Jake" LaMotta (July 10, 1922 – September 19, 2017) was an American professional boxer and former World Middleweight Champion, nicknamed "The Bronx Bull" and "The Raging Bull". LaMotta was known as a rough fighter who would viciously throw punches at his opponents in the ring. LaMotta's six fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson is one of the most notable in the sport, with LaMotta winning just one of the bouts, although each one was close and LaMotta dropped Robinson multiple times.
LaMotta was born in East New York City, on July 10th, 1922. Both of his parents were immigrants from Italy. The family moved to Philadelphia from New York, then got back and settled in the New York City district of Bronx, where LaMotta got his nickname "The Bronx Bull". As a young boy, LaMotta frequently fought with other kids violently, this entertained people who were throwing money into the ring. This became the main source of income for the family. LaMotta attempted to rob a store, but eventually got caught and thrown into jail, where he learned to box. After getting out, LaMotta participated in amateur competitions where he managed to win every single time, turning professional at just 19 years old.
LaMotta was fighting as a middleweight and managed a record of 14-0-1 (3 KOs), before getting a controversial loss to Jimmy Reeves, LaMotta knocked out Reeves, but the bell was sounded before the referee counted to ten. The crowd was rioting and booing after the decision has been announced.
LaMotta vs. Robinson I-V
LaMotta fought with Robinson on his middleweight debut at Madison Square Garden. In the first round, LaMotta knocked out Robinson with his right hand, but Robinson got up, and eventually won by unanimous decision. Another bout happened in 1943, this time LaMotta kept Robinson tight and pushed him into the ropes, giving him several hard punches, Robinson was knocked out but got up just before the referee counted to ten, Jake however won via unanimous decision giving Robinson his first defeat. Not just a few days later, they fought again on February 26th, 1943. LaMotta was hitting Robinson with hard punches, he later claimed that LaMotta hurt him severely with his left hand. However he still managed to get some uppercuts on LaMotta, and won by unanimous decision. The fourth bout happened two years later in 1945, Robinson once again won via unanimous decision. The fifth bout is the most controversial one, Robinson himself said this was the toughest one against LaMotta, as he won by a controversial split decision in 12 rounds; this decision was criticized by boxing publishers and newspapers. LaMotta and Robinson didn't have a fight until nearly 6 years later.
LaMotta vs. Fox
On November 14, 1947, LaMotta was knocked out in the fourth round by Billy Fox. Suspecting the fight was fixed, the New York State Athletic Commission withheld purses for the fight and suspended LaMotta. The fight with Fox would come back to haunt him later in life, during a case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In his testimony and in his later book, LaMotta admitted to throwing the fight to gain favor with the Mafia, which would pay him 20,000$. This fight gave him a chance to win the middleweight championship.
LaMotta fought against Michael Cerdan from France, who was current middleweight champion at the time. LaMotta managed to knock out Cerdan in 10 short rounds, originally a rematch was planned, but Cerdan sadly died in a plane crash. LaMotta's first title defense was against Tiberio Mitri in 1950, he retained his title by winning via split decision. His next title defense was against Laurent Dauthuille, he previously beat LaMotta before becoming a champion, as the end of the fight was coming, Dauthuille seemed to win until LaMotta threw a barrage of punches at Dauthuille and eventually won by split decision.
Saint Valentine's Day Massacre
The sixth fight and perhaps the most famous between LaMotta and Robinson was the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, in the last rounds LaMotta was boxed into the rope unable to defend himself against Robinson's punches, he was bleeding badly but never got knocked down, he later remarked to Robinson "You never got me down Ray! You never got me down!".
Light heavyweight career and retirement
After losing his middleweight title, LaMotta moved up to Light Heavyweight, he did very poorly losing almost every fight. After this he decided to retire from boxing. He managed bars and worked as a stand-up comedian in Miami, but got arrested for introducing an underage girl to a man at a bar he owned.
LaMotta had the aggressive fighting style, almost always staying in front of the opponent and following him, sacrificing a few punches to the face so he could land his own. He also is recognized for having a very durable chin. This led him to adopt nicknames such as "The Bronx Bull" and "The Raging Bull".
LaMotta died on September 19, 2017, from complications of pneumonia, at the age of 95.
Record and Statistics
Name: Jake LaMotta
Nicknames: The Bronx Bull
Wins by KO: 30
No contests: 0