Legendary boxer Jake LaMotta who inspired Scorsese's 'Raging Bull' dies at age 95
Jake LaMotta was the middleweight champion of the entire world. He was the best of the best. And now, he's lovingly remembered by his family in a series of touching Facebook posts. His daughter wrote: “Jake LaMotta July 10, 1922 - September 19, 2017. Rest in Peace Pop.”
A series of Facebook posts from LaMotta's living relatives mourned and loved the late boxer, who died at the impressive age of 95, setting the bar for a lifelong fighter managing to outlive most people who lived incredibly safe and cushy lives.
His wife said: "I just want people to know, he was a great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humour, with eyes that danced."
His niece, Diane Ramaglia Bonita, said:
“A legend has just left for heaven. My Uncle and Middleweight Champ, Jake LaMotta, whose life story was portrayed by Oscar Winner, Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull, the longest living prize fighter, died today at the age of 95. Out of pain and resting in peace in the loving embrace of our Lord, and forever in my heart, always remembered with loving pride. Rest now Uncle Jake. A family resemblance to our Legend, our Champ, Uncle Jake LaMotta. My Michael Bonita’s looks are so incredibly aligned with his great uncle. Uncle Jake fought the good fight right to the end.”
LaMotta became the world middleweight champion all the way back in 1949, after the end of World War II. His career lasted 13 years, where he fought 106 times and won 83 of those fights. His rival, Sugar Ray Robison, was his main challenger - he fought Sugar Ray six times, but only won a single time.
LaMotta, of course, was the inspiration for the titular character in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull. A dark character drama about the shadows of or lesser human nature, LaMotta himself had his demons, featuring a rocky love life where he married seven separate times.
The storied life of a boxer who holds nothing back is certainly ripe for cinema - it is cinematic in and of itself. And it's quite impressive that a man who was fighting back in 1949 was still alive in 2017, witnessing the end of the World War II, the end of the Cold War, the turn of the century and the invention of the internet.
All the while, he was fighting.
LaMotta said this about the film, and his depiction in Raging Bull:
"When I saw the film, I was upset. I kind of look bad in it. Then I realized it was true. That's the way it was. I was a no-good bastard. I realize it now. It's not the way I am now, but the way I was then."
LaMotta looked back on a life of great heights and deep lows, like all legendary figures. It's amazing his living family managed to spend so many happy years with him. The sport of boxing just would not be the same without the contributions of Jake LaMotta, both in the ring and in its portrayals on the silver screen.