Jake Lamotta


Born: July 10th, 1921 in The Bronx, New York City, New York
Nationality: American
Famous For: Being the inspiration for the movie Raging Bull
Awards: World middlweight champion, World Boxing Hall of Fame, International Boxing Hall of Fame

It can be argued that today most people know Jake LaMotta thanks to Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the boxer in the movie “Raging Bull.” For those who are familiar with his career, his well over 100 matches helped establish him as one of the greatest middleweight fighters in boxing history.

Early Days

LaMotta was born on July 10th, 1921 in the Bronx. The way in which LaMotta started his fight career was not exactly glamorous. His father set up fights for where Jake would fight other children in the neighborhood for the entertainment of adults. These adults would offer pocket change as tips for the event. Jake’s father would then use the money to cover the cost of his monthly rent.

As he grew older, LaMotta joined a boxing gym and began his formal training in the sport.

Professional Career

LaMotta turned professional in 1941 at the age of 19. He won 14 out of his first 15 bouts. His lone loss was to Jimmy Reeves in Reeves’ hometown. The decision was enormously controversial and the crowd started rioting when the decision was announced. The two fought twice more. Each fighter won a once apiece.

Fights with Sugar Ray Robinson

LaMotta would go on to have five classic matches with Sugar Ray Robinson, one of the greatest boxers in history. Robinson won the first bout, LaMotta won the second and Robinson would go on to win the next three. The final match was considered very controversial and many believed LaMotta was the real victor.

Controversy and a World Title

LaMotta would have a well publicized bout with Billy Fox. LaMotta lost the fight and the athletic commission believed that he took a dive. LaMotta ended up being suspended after the match.

LaMotta also had ties with the mob. A $20,000 payoff to the mob led to LaMotta getting a match with middleweight champion Marcel Cerdan. The bout took place in Detroit, Michigan on June 16th, 1949. A rematch between the two was to take place, but Cerdan was killed in a plane crash.

A sixth fight against Sugar Ray Robinson would take place. Despite suffering a horrible beating, LaMotta would not go down. He did lose the match and the title by decision. After the bout, he moved up to the light heavyweight division.

His light heavyweight career was a mixed bag of wins and losses. As the 1950’s wore on, LaMotta declined as a fighter. He soon retired from the sport.

Retirement Years

LaMotta would go on to own and manage bars. He also acted in 15 films. Strangely, he was arrested and convicted of introducing older men to meet with underage girls. LaMotta professed his innocence, but he still served time in jail.

Raging Bull

In 1980, the motion picture “Raging Bull” was released. It presented a sad look at the up and down life of Jake LaMotta. It did, however, bring public attention back to the fighter who had been out of the public spotlight for a long time.

Today, LaMotta is in his 90’s and maintains a low profile.