Giacobbe “Jake” LaMotta, the former middleweight boxing champion, died on Tuesday at the age of 95. LaMotta, was a brawler in the ring (and out), stalking opponents close up, taking blow after blow, in order to deliver an explosion of his own punches.
My father would often mention that he listened to all six of LaMotta’s fights against Sugar Ray Robinson on the radio. One day, my Dad came to my bedroom door, and asked if I’d go see a movie with him. It was slightly out of character, so I was a little surprised. When I asked, “What movie?” He replied, “The one about LaMotta”. The movie, of course, was “Raging Bull” with Robert DeNiro.
The LaMotta/Robinson fights were epic battles. LaMotta only won one of the six meetings, their second fight. In the eighth round of that fight, LaMotta sent Robinson through the ropes and out of the ring. It was Robinson’s first loss of his boxing career. Their fight in Chicago Stadium on 14 February 1951 became known as the Second Valentine’s Day Massacre. The fight was stopped in the 13th Round, with LaMotta a bloody mess.
LaMotta later said about Robinson: “The three toughest fighters I ever fought were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times, I’m surprised I’m not diabetic.”
LaMotta had a professional record of 83 wins (30 by KO), 19 losses, and 4 draws.