On This Day: Jake LaMotta rescues his world title with last gasp win over Laurent Dauthuille

Jake LaMotta
Marc Gatford tells the story of how Jake LaMotta scored one of the most famous victories in boxing history

1. JAKE LaMOTTA, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, with a late onslaught on Laurent Dauthuille, producing one of the great last-gasp wins in boxing history on September 13, 1950.

2. The middleweights were well acquainted, having shared a ring the previous year, in a bout that went the distance. Their initial showdown, in Quebec, Canada, exemplified the cliché ‘styles make fights’. The wily Frenchman, on the back foot, would attempt to penetrate the New Yorker’s defence with precise countering. LaMotta, who preferred taking his opponents to the trenches, with all out bull-like aggression, endeavoured to instigate a war. Between rounds five and six, both fighters were examined by the doctor, having inflicted severe gashes to each other’s faces – both continued.

3. It was, however, the slick and agile Dauthuille who was getting the better of the exchanges, crashing a flurry of memorable blows to the head of the American, during the championship round. The man from the Bronx struggled to sustain an attack of clean punches throughout the fight. The Frenchman eventually took a unanimous decision over 10 rounds, capturing the world middleweight crown. Shortly after, a rematch was signed for the following year.

4. By the time they met, LaMotta was a world champion having expedited his ascension through the ranks, with underhanded plans executed in cahoots with the mob.

5. The New Yorker’s notorious attempt to forge a shot at the middleweight title reflected his tumultuous life outside the ropes. “Raging Bull”, known for his stone cast chin was dropped and stopped, seemingly effortlessly by “Black Jack” Billy Fox, in New York, in 1947. The commission, suspecting foul play, withheld purses from both fighters. It later transpired LaMotta had conspired with the mob, to manufacture a world title bout with Marcel Cerdan, by taking a dive.

6. Jake LaMotta was crowned middleweight champion, in 1949. Cerdan, who slumped on his stool after a punishing round nine, didn’t return to his feet, retiring from the fight and relinquishing his title. Tragically, the Frenchman perished in an aircraft disaster, as he returned to America to fight LaMotta in a rematch.

7. On September 13, 1950, LaMotta and Dauthuille rekindled their rivalry. For much for the return, “the Tarzan from Buzenal” moved expertly in out of range, tempering LaMotta’s aggression, and piling up the points. As the bell sounded for the beginning of round 15, the Frenchman had tallied a clear chasm on the cards. Against the better judgement of a fighter with the bout in the bag, the Frenchman came out throwing.

8. LaMotta’s tank appeared to be spent; he seemed to lack the stamina and impetus to generate a must needed knockout. With time ticking away, LaMotta, who perhaps lulled his opponent into a false sense of security and thus preserving energy for a final assault, began to fireback. Connecting with brutal ease, the Frenchman ate an assortment of lefts and rights. With 13 seconds left in a round that was expiring ever-slower for the challenger, LaMotta threw a looping left, colliding decisively with the Frenchman’s jaw and crashing him to the canvas via the second rope.

9. Dauthuille did not regain equilibrium and was counted out seconds before capturing a world title, at the Olympia stadium, Detroit, Michigan.

10. Few men who cut their teeth in the fight came, duelling for dollars on the streets of the Bronx, New York, realise their dream of becoming world champion, defeat Sugar Ray Robinson and have their life portrayed on the silver screen by Robert De Niro. LaMotta, of Italian descent, would go down as a legend of a sport, during a notorious era for boxing.

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