Giacobbe LaMotta better known as Jake LaMotta, nicknamed "The Bronx Bull" and "The Raging Bull", is an American former world middleweight champion boxer who was famously portrayed by Robert De Niro in the film Raging Bull. LaMotta was born on the lower east side of Manhattan on July 10th, 1922 at 1st Ave. and 10th street to parents of italian heritage. 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. In 1941, at the age of 19, LaMotta turned professional.
LaMotta, who compiled a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and four draws with 30 wins by way of knockout, was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson, knocking him down in the first round of their first fight and then out pointing him over the course of 10 rounds during the second fight of their legendary six-bout rivalry.
On 14 November 1947, LaMotta lost in four rounds to Billy Fox. Suspecting the fight was fixed, the New York State Athletic Commission withheld purses for the fight and suspended LaMotta. The fight with Fox would come back to haunt LaMotta later in life, during a hearing with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The thrown fight and a payment of $20,000 to the Mafia got LaMotta his title bout against Marcel Cerdan. 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 gave up before the start of the 10th. The official score had LaMotta as winner by a knockout in 10 rounds because the bell had already rung to begin that round when Cerdan announced he was quitting. A rematch was arranged, but while Cerdan was flying back to the United States to fight the rematch, his Air France Lockheed Constellation crashed in the Azores, killing everyone on board. LaMotta met two challengers Tiberio Mitri and Laurent Dauthuille and beat them, and then he was challenged by Robinson for their rivalry's sixth fight.
Held on February 14, 1951, Saint Valentine's Day, the fight became known as boxing's version of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won by a technical knockout in the 13th round, when the fight was stopped with LaMotta lying on the ropes.In the mid-1950's, LaMotta suffered from a boxing injury and took time off to recover. He was always interested in baseball and decided to form the Jake LaMotta All-Star team. They played in Sterling Oval which was located between 165th and 164th Streets between Clay and Teller Avenue in the Bronx. He also held professional fights at that field, and his brother Joey often fought there.
In 1960, LaMotta was called to testify before a U.S. Senate sub-committee that was looking at underworld influence on boxing. He testified that he had thrown his bout with Billy Fox so that the mob would arrange a title bout for him. After retirement, LaMotta owned and managed bars, and became a stage actor and stand-up comedian. He appeared in more than 15 films, including The Hustler with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, in which he had a cameo role as a bartender.
After retirement Hollywood executives approached LaMotta with the idea of a movie about his life, based on his 1970 memoir Raging Bull: My Story. The film, Raging Bull, was initially only a minor box office success, but eventually became a huge critical success both for director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro, who gained about 60 pounds during the shooting of the film to play the older LaMotta in later scenes. To accurately portray the younger LaMotta, De Niro trained with LaMotta until LaMotta felt he was ready to box professionally. De Niro lived in Paris for three months, eating at the finest restaurants in order to gain sufficient weight to portray LaMotta after retirement. De Niro won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.
Jake LaMotta has 6 children, four daughters and two sons. He remains active on the speaking and autograph circuit, and has published several books about his career, his life, and his fights with Robinson. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and was ranked 52nd on Ring Magazine's 80 Greatest Fighters of The Past 80 Years. The magazine also ranked him as one of the 10 greatest middleweights of all time. Jake LaMotta currently lives in New York City, Florida and Arizona with his fiance Denise Baker.