Last Updated on Friday, 24 December 2010 02:38
Written by Alexander Zammit
Thursday, 23 December 2010 23:22
One of the most notorious characters in the history of modern boxing is without a doubt Jake LaMotta, who won the middleweight world title in 1949 in Detroit against Frenchman Marcel Cerdan and in 1980 was immortalised by Martin Scorsese, in his 1980 biopic Raging Bull. In this blockbuster film actor Robert De Niro, plays the emotional self-destructive LaMotta and his journey through life, portraying the violence and temper that leads LaMotta to the top in the ring and destroys his life outside it. (Robert DeNiro received an Oscar for this part)
Giacobbe LaMotta an Italian – American was born July 10, 1921 and is better known as Jake LaMotta, "The Bronx Bull" or "The Raging Bull".
LaMotta was born in New York City, in an immigrant Bronx slum 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. LaMotta's father collected the money and used it to help pay the rent.
As a young man LaMotta skills with his fists earned him the amateur light heavyweight championship's Diamond Belt. In 1941, at the age of 19, LaMotta turned professional.
LaMotta, who compiled a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and 4 draws with 30 wins by way of knockout, was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson, when he dropped Robinson in the first round and outpointed him over the course of ten rounds during the second fight of their legendary six bout rivalry. LaMotta lost five of those.
La Motta had declined the Mob and their overtures in his early days as a prize fighter. This was a time when boxing was less a legitimate sport than an extension of the criminal underworld, with many fighters forced to hand over 50 per cent of their purses to the shadowy figures that haunted the gyms of the big cities. - It was only after seven years as a leading contender without a sniff of a title shot that La Motta finally fell into line, throwing a bout with Billy Fox. Within two years he was given a shot at Marcel Cerdan for the middleweight championship of the world.
In 1948, he was knocked out in four rounds by Billy Fox. The fight with Fox would come back to haunt him back later in life.
LaMotta won the world title in 1949 in Detroit 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 tenth, the official scoring being LaMotta winner by a knockout in ten because the bell had already rung to begin that round when Cerdan announced he was quitting. A rematch was signed, but while Cerdan was flying back to the United States to fight the rematch, his Air France Caravelle crashed at the Azores, killing everyone on board. LaMotta met two challengers and beat them, and then he was challenged by Robinson on their rivalry's sixth fight. Held on February 14, 1951, the fight became known as boxing's version of The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won by a technical knockout in the thirteenth round, when the fight was stopped with LaMotta laying on the ropes. LaMotta approached him afterwards and muttered You couldn't drop me! You never dropped me! to Robinson's ears.
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. In the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, his sixth bout with Robinson, LaMotta suffered numerous sickening blows to the head. Commentators could be heard saying "No man can take this kind of punishment!" But LaMotta did not go down. The fight was stopped by the referee in the 13th round, declaring it a TKO victory for Robinson. -- LaMotta was one of the first boxers to adopt the "bully" style of fighting, in that he always stayed 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 known as "The Bronx Bull. He boasted "No son-of-a-bitch ever knocked me off my feet", but that claim was ended in December 1952 at the hands of Danny Nardico when Nardico caught him with a hard right in the seventh round. LaMotta fell into the ropes and went down. After regaining his footing, he was unable to come out for the next round.
In 1953, LaMotta shocked the sports world when he was called to testify by the FBI in the hearings they were holding against some mafia groups. LaMotta said during the hearing, perhaps not realizing that he was also harming his own image, that he had thrown the fight in 1948 with Billy Fox in exchange for a shot against world champion Cerdan. This fight haunted him ever since, and it is a subject he refuses to talk about in public to this day.
After retirement, he bought a few bars and became a stage actor and stand up comedian. Then in 1980, Hollywood beckoned with Raging Bull. This movie allowed the violent and problematic LaMotta who once even went as far as beating his own brother, manager Joey LaMotta, accusing him and his wife (Vicky LaMotta, who once posed for Playboy magazine) of having an affair, to cash in on his narcissistic violent tendencies.
Legend has it that after attending the premiere with his already ex-wife, LaMotta told her he could not believe he was that bad.
Another plane crash would affect LaMott'a life in 1998, when his son, Jake LaMotta Jr., a noted chef, died in the Swissair flight that crashed in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Today, LaMotta does many tours across the United States to banquets and lectures he holds, and a series of books about his life, his fights with Robinson and other matters about his life have been published. LaMotta is also an avid autograph signer.
During his career jake LaMotta defeated such men as Robinson, Marcel Cerdan, Fritzie Zivic, Holman Williams, Bob Satterfield, Tony Janiro, Laurent Dauthuille, Anton Raadik, Tommy Yarosz, Robert Villemain, Dick Wagner and Tiberio Mitri
Herb Goldman ranked LaMotta as the #7 All-Time Middleweight; Jake was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 - In 2004, The Ring named LaMotta the 5th greatest middleweight of all-time. He was ranked 52nd on Ring Magazine's List of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years