The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced its flags will fly at half-staff in memory of middleweight champion “The Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta. He passed away yesterday (9/19) surrounded by family and friends at Palm Garden Nursing Home in Aventura, FL following a battle with pneumonia. He was 95.
“Jake LaMotta was one of the toughest and most relentless boxers in ring history,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “The Hall of Fame joins the boxing world in mourning the passing of a legend.”
Born July 10, 1922 in Bronx NY, after a two-year amateur career LaMotta turned pro in 1941. He captured the world middleweight championship via 10th round TKO over Hall of Famer Marcel Cerdan in 1949 and reigned until 1951. The determined middleweight also scored wins over top-notch fighters such as Bob Satterfield, Laurent Dauthuille, Tiberio Mitri, Bert Lytell, Tommy Bell and Hall of Famers Holman Williams and Fritzie Zivic. LaMotta famously battled Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Robinson in six legendary bouts. His pro record stands at 83-19-4 (30 KOs). LaMotta’s life story was brought to the big screen by Martin Scorsese in 1980’s Academy Award-winning motion picture Raging Bull starring Robert DeNiro.
“He was a great man, a sweet, sensitive, strong and compelling person with a great sense of humor. He had beautiful eyes that danced,” said LaMotta’s wife, Denise Baker. “May God rest his soul and may he sleep in peace.”
In 1990 LaMotta was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Legendary world middleweight champion and boxing Hall of Famer Jake LaMotta, who later became the central character in the Martin Scorsese-directed Academy Award-winning film Raging Bull (1980) starring Robert De Niro, passed away in Miami, Florida today (September 20) at the age of 95.
LaMotta’s fiancé of 25-years, Denise Baker, confirmed that LaMotta died of Dysphagia pneumonia at Palm Garden Nursing Home, in Miami, Florida, where he was given hospice care in recent weeks by Seasons Hospice.
Giacobbe “Jake” LaMotta was born on July 10, 1922 in New York City, and was raised in The Bronx. The brawler nicknamed the “Bronx Bull” won the middleweight championship in 1949, and is best remembered for his bouts against another iconic champion Sugar Ray Robinson. LaMotta retired in 1954 with a ring record of 83-19-4, with 30 knockouts. LaMotta was enshrined into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
His 1970 biography Raging Bull: My Story was adapted into the 1980 movie starring De Niro in the lead role.
LaMotta was known for an explosive temper on the streets of New York, but turned the street brawls into a profession. LaMotta turned pro as a teenager at age 19.
LaMotta handed the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson the first defeat of his career in 1943. The two would face each other six times, including the last time in 1951. In a fight later dubbed the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” LaMotta endured a brutal beating but refused to go down. The referee ultimately stopped the fight the 13th round.
Fritzie Zivic, Tommy Bell and Tony Janiro were among the other top boxers of the era that he defeated. In 1949, LaMotta stopped Marcel Cerdan for the middleweight championship. The two were scheduled for a rematch, which had to be called off after Cerdan died in a plane crash. LaMotta then successfully defended his title against Tiberio Mitri and Laurent Dauthuille.
In his later years, LaMotta made many personal appearances, mostly in New York.
A second movie on his life, entitled LaMotta: The Bronx Bull, released in 2015, starred such notable actors as William Forsythe, Paul Sorvino and Joe Mantegna.
LaMotta is survived by his fiancé Denise Baker, her daughters Meggen Connolley and Natalia Baker; his daughters Jacklyn O’Neill, Christie LaMotta, Elisa LaMotta, and Mia Day; brothers Joe LaMotta and Al LaMotta; sisters Maria Hawfield and Anne Ramaglia. He is pre-deceased by two sons, Jack and Joseph, who died seven months apart in 1998.
Funeral will be private. A memorial service will be held in New York, date and location to be determined.