Boxing legend Jake Lamotta passed away this week from complications of pneumonia. He was 95 years old.
As a fighter, he had 83 wins in 106 bouts and held the World Middleweight title from 1949 to 1951. Though he was never known as a particularly skilled boxer, his hard-nosed style and rocky personal life made him a legend.
As a boxer, no one summed Jake Lamotta up quite as well as Sugar Ray Robinson, who wrote in his autobiography:
“I had [Lamotta] along the ropes. He had his head down and I was really measuring him. His head popped up and he let go a left hook that almost tore through my stomach. It hurt so much, I had tears in my eyes, like a little kid. I got the decision, but I learned that Jake LaMotta was some animal.”
These days, most people know Lamotta as the titular character depicted by Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese’s film 1980 classic “Raging Bull“. But, to those who experienced his rise first hand, he’ll always be more than that. Following the champ’s passing, his wife released a statement, saying:
“I just want people to know, he was a great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humor, with eyes that danced.”