BOXING legend and former middleweight king Jake LaMotta incredibly celebrates his 95th birthday today. Born in the mean streets of The Bronx in New York, “The Raging Bull, who retired from the ring with an astonishing 83-19-4(30) record in April of 1954, has outlived his famous ring rivals by a considerable amount of time.
The sublime Sugar Ray Robinson has been gone for a quarter of a century, Frenchman Laurent Dauthuille, against whom Jake scored that flabbergasting, come-from-behind, last 13-seconds of the 15th-round KO, passed away back in 1971. Tony Janiro, the good looking kid Jake busted up (as immortalised in the classic movie starring Robert De Niro – “well, he ain’t good looking any more”) left us in 1985. And the list goes on.
Blessed with one of the hardest, most durable chins in all of boxing, Jake took everything his opponents could dish out. Rarely has a stronger man – mentally or physically – stepped into the ring. Turning pro in March of 1941, with a 4-round points win over Charley Mackley, LaMotta soon earned himself a reputation as a no-nonsense tough guy. Amazingly, Jake fought 20 times in his debutant year alone! The following year, in October, LaMotta faced “Sugar” Ray for the first time, losing a decision to the 35-0 master. Four months later the two met again, with Jake turning the tables on Robbie, winning a 10-round decision of his own, thus ruining Robinson’s perfect (40-0) ledger. A genuinely fierce ring rivalry was born.
A self confessed bad guy outside of the ring in his younger days, the Jake of today is a celebrated piece of ring royalty; a treasured former warrior who is applauded for the way he was able to survive both the rough, tough mean streets of his upbringing and the ravages of the ring.
And there could be more to come from the Jake LaMotta story. Reports say a sequel to the majestic 1980 movie that immortalised Jake is in the works (this despite reported legal issues). Movies aside, a number of LaMotta’s fight sequels proved to be better than the original: his six-fight series with “Sugar Ray” proving that a series can get better and better and better.
Jake, (in the film at least) bellowed to Robinson in the 13th-round of their sixth and final meeting – this one for the middleweight crown owned by LaMotta – that “you never got me down, Ray!”
All these years later and Jake still hasn’t gone down for the count.