Jake LaMotta biography
Jake LaMotta, born on July 10, 1922, in the Bronx, New York, became a professional boxer, known for his bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson and earning the middleweight championship in 1949, with 83 wins over his career. His post-boxing life included stand-up comedy as well as jail time, with accounts of abusive behavior. The film Raging Bull (1980) was inspired by his autobiography.
Professional boxer Giacobbe "Jake" LaMotta was born on July 10, 1921, in the Bronx, New York. Nicknamed the Bronx Bull, LaMotta was a leading boxer in 1940s and early 1950s whose life story served as the basis for the Academy Award-winning film Raging Bull (1980).
Born in the New York City borough of the Bronx, he developed an explosive temper at a young age. LaMotta started putting his violent nature to work at the behest of his father. He would start fights in the street to help earn money for his family. Later LaMotta got in trouble after he tried to rob a jewelry store and spent time in reform school.
Professional Boxing Success
At the age of 19, the rough, streetwise LaMotta became a professional boxer. Aggressive and relentless in the ring, he played with his opponents, often duping them into thinking he was losing stream before launching his attack. LaMotta was known for his ability to take punches.
After suffering an earlier defeat in their first fight, he became the first boxer to defeat the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson in 1943. Other heavy hitters got a taste of LaMotta's bull-like style, including Fritzie Zivic, Tommy Bell and Tony Janiro. But his most notorious fight was his loss to Billy Fox in 1947. Many spectators and reporters alike suspected that the fight may have been fixed.
In 1949, LaMotta fought Marcel Cerdan for the middleweight championship and won on the title. Unfortunately, a rematch between the two had to be called off after Cerdan died in a plane crash. LaMotta successfully defended his title against Tiberio Mitri and Laurent Dauthuille.
In 1951, he faced longtime rival Sugar Ray Robinson in the ring in a title fight. For round after round, Robinson landed powerful punch after punch on LaMotta, but LaMotta refused to go down. The beating was so bad that a referee stepped in to end the fight in the thirteenth round. LaMotta fought a few more times after this tremendous defeat, but eventually retired in the 1950s. He left behind an impressive career with having only been knocked out once in more than 100 fights.
After his boxing career was over, LaMotta ran a nightclub in Miami for a while. He reportedly dated such stars as Jayne Mansfield and Hedi Lamar. But his good life turned sour near the end of the decade as he was convicted for corrupting the morals of a minor and served six months on a Florida chain gang. Not long after this dark time, LaMotta tried his hand at making light of his life by doing stand-up comedy. No one was laughing, however, when LaMotta finally admitted to taking a dive during the Fox fight to a 1960 Senate subcommittee investigating organized crime’s involvement in boxing.
In 1970, LaMotta shared the details of his violent, stormy personal life as well as his professional career in the book, Raging Bull: My Story. He revealed his insecurities, jealous nature, and history of violence against women. The book was made into the 1980 film, Raging Bull, which starred Robert De Niro as LaMotta and was directed by Martin Scorsese.
Along with showing his prowess inside the ring, it examined his destructive ways and volcanic temper beyond the ropes, especially his abusive second marriage to wife Vicki. The film won two Academy Awards, including Best Actor for De Niro, and the resulting popularity renewed the public’s interest in LaMotta himself. Capitalizing on this new wave of attention, the second installment of his memoirs, Raging Bull II, was published in 1986.
In 1998, LaMotta experienced a series of personal tragedies. He lost his two sons from his second marriage, Jack and Joseph. Jack died of cancer, and Joseph died in an airplane crash. Over the years, LaMotta has kept himself busy with personal appearances, autograph shows, and even marketed a line of pasta sauces for a time.
Today, LaMotta lives in New York City. Married six times, he is reportedly engaged to Denise Baker, according to an article in London's The Times newspaper.