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Boxing legend Jake LaMotta, the 'Raging Bull', dies aged 95

The final bell has tolled for the Bronx Bull.

Image: AP/PA Images

FORMER WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT champion Jake LaMotta has died aged 95.

LaMotta’s daughter, Christi, posted a tribute to the Bronx Bull on Facebook yesterday evening (19 September). It read: “Jake LaMotta July 10, 1922 – September 19, 2017 – Rest in Peace Pop.”

LaMotta had reportedly been battling pneumonia in recent weeks, but stayed “fighting to the end” per a family source.

A born brawler and widely considered to have possessed one of the strongest chins in boxing history, LaMotta endured a six-fight rivalry with the greatest fighter ever to lace up the gloves, ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson. He lost five of six fights with the consensus all-time pound-for-pound king, all but one those defeats extremely narrow.

LaMotta knocked Robinson down on numerous occasions, but despite being stopped in the 13th round of their sixth and final bout, the Italian-American was never once sent to the canvas by the great Sugar Ray – this in spite of the latter’s hellish power.

Robinson would say of his compeer: “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought. I never knew anyone who was more aggressive and rough as he.”

LaMotta would later famously add of their rivalry:

The three toughest fighters I fought were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar Ray Robinson so many times, it’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes!

An International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, LaMotta is considered one of the 10 greatest middleweights of all time by Ring Magazine.

While also dabbling in club ownership and stand-up comedy, the Bronx native starred in over 15 films following his retirement in 1954. It was 1980, however, before Hollywood executives would approach him with the idea of making a film about his own tumultuous life.

Though merely a minor box office success to begin with, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull biopic would go on to garner global critical acclaim. Lead actor Robert De Niro, who before assuming the role had trained with LaMotta until the titular character was confident the actor could conceivably box professionally, won an Oscar for his potrayal of the former champion.

LaMotta’s two sons died in separate, tragic circumstances in 1998. He is survived by his four daughters. His nephew, John LaMotta – himself a former boxer – played ‘Duke’, the owner of Duke’s bar in Frasier.

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