An intense competitor and feared contender, Jake “The Bronx Bull” LaMotta was one of boxing’s most legendary figures.
“Jake LaMotta was recognized as having the best chin in boxing over the last 75 years. But there was much more to LaMotta than a granite chin.” – The International Boxing Hall of Fame.
He was known as the “Bronx Bull” because of an aggressive, hard-charging style. Jake LaMotta was a classic banger, choosing to pound out his victories in weight classes ranging from welterweight to heavyweight. He was most successful in the middleweight ranks, where he won a world title while fighting Sugar Ray Robinson in a legendary six-bout series.
Born in 1921 in New York, New York, LaMotta learned to box while serving time in the Coxsackie Correctional Institute during his teenage years. Once out, he quickly turned pro and won his pro debut in 1941, a four-round decision over Charley Mackey.
LaMotta sweetened his record over the next couple of years before tangling with Robinson. During this 1943 bout, LaMotta took a 10-round decision, cementing his reputation in the sport. However, it was his only win against the agile Robinson. Fans, though, still clamored to see them matched up, the stand-up slugger versus the skilled boxer.
In 1949, LaMotta won the world’s middleweight crown, with a TKO of France’s Marcel Cerdan, who wasn’t able to answer the bell in the 10th round. A rematch was scheduled for a year later, but Cerdan was killed in an October plane crash en route to his training base in the U.S. LaMotta would defend his title twice before being stopped by Robinson in the 13th round of their February 14, 1951 encounter. Though badly battered, LaMotta wasn’t knocked down. Instead, he hung onto the ring ropes while being counted out.
LaMotta would be KO’d in two of his next seven bouts and his active days in the ring would slow. He fought in 1952, sat out 1953 and ended his career with three bouts in 1954. His career record was 83-19-4, with 30 KOs to his credit.
After his retirement, LaMotta co-authored his autobiography, “Raging Bull.” The book was adapted to the screen in a 1981 movie of the same name, starring a gripping Robert DeNiro as LaMotta. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.