Most fighters would think twice before squaring off in the ring against an angry bull of a guy.
But, for opponents in the ring facing the focus of today’s #TBT sports blog, no better nickname expressed the fear and intimidation he wielded as boxing’s Raging Bull.
The always snarling Jake La Motta charged opponents like a bull exploding out of a pen to attack a matador.
This Raging Bull’s bullish boxing style, along with incredible stamina to survive severe beatings in the ring, contributed to his boxing success.
A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, La Motta reached the pinnacle of his profession when he knocked out Frenchman Marcel Cerdan in 1949. He captured the World Middleweight Title, a championship that he successfully defended twice.
Named by Ring Magazine as one of the top ten middleweight fighters ever, La Motta retired in 1954 with a career record of 83 wins (30 by knockout), 19 losses and 4 draws.
La Motta’s most notable fights pitted him six times against Sugar Ray Robinson, one of boxing’s all time greats. Their February 14, 1952 bout became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The bloodied Raging Bull ferociously fought the superior Robinson for 13 rounds before the fight was mercifully stopped and awarded to Sugar Ray.
This fighter’s life outside the boxing ring is as controversial as his accomplishments inside the ropes.
La Motta Autobiography Raging Bull: My Story
Chronicled in his autobiography Raging Bull:My Story, La Motta’s father forced him into fighting at an early age in order to entertain neighbors for money and subsidize the family’s income.
Complex and troubled, La Motta also threw plenty of punches outside the ring. He once confessed to beating up a bookie and left him for dead. He also admitted to hitting his first wife Vikki so hard that he thought he had killed her.
In addition, the menacing Raging Bull admitted to throwing a November 14, 1947 fight against Billy Fox. He supposedly wanted to endear himself to the Mafia.
Accomplished Hollywood Director Martin Scorsese eventually adapted La Motta’s autobiography. The critically acclaimed movie, in which Robert De Niro played the real Raging Bull, won an Academy Award.
In my sports comic book on Favorite Boxers, I feature La Motta in chapter 10.
Though I cringe when learning about La Motta’s bad behavior, violent temper and poor decisions in life, I also admire his indomitable spirit to overcome a horrific childhood and excel as a professional boxer.
In his post boxing days, Jake La Motta married seven times. He also pursued other surprising entertainment endeavors like stand-up comedy and ownership of a baseball team.
Since hanging up his gloves five decades ago, La Motta has relentlessly attacked every new venture as if it where one of his former opponents in the ring.
However, anyone who comes close to this colorful, complicated character knows to be as cautious around him as a matador.
And, that’s no bull. R.I.P. Jake LaMotta.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!