Raging Bull Jake LaMotta dies, age 95 | News | DW | 20.09.2017
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Raging Bull Jake LaMotta dies, age 95

Boxer Jake LaMotta, who was memorialized by Robert De Niro in the Oscar-winning movie "Raging Bull," has passed away from pneumonia. LaMotta was best known for his rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson in 1940s and 50s.

Jake LaMotta's family announced on Wednesday that the legendary boxer had passed away at a Miami-area hospital, after suffering from complications of pneumonia. He was 95.

LaMotta was one of the most iconic figures from the 1950s golden age of boxing, when it was one of the most popular sports in the US. The two-time middleweight champion was best remembered for his bitter six-fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson.

Decades after retiring, LaMotta's legacy went on to gain fame with a new generation when Robert De Niro won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the troubled boxer in the 1980 film "Raging Bull," directed by Martin Scorsese.

Boxer Jake LaMotta (Getty Images/Keystone)

Jake LaMotta squares up against Robert Villemain at Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1949.

LaMotta's longtime fiancée Denise Baker told US website TMZ.com that the late boxer was a "great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humor, with eyes that danced."

De Niro also led the tributes on Wednesday, saying in a statement: "Rest in peace, champ."

LaMotta racked up a record of 83 victories (30 of which knockouts), 19 defeats and four ties, in career spanning from 1941 to 1954. He captured the middleweight title in 1949 with a knockout win against French boxer Marcel Cerdan.

He twice successfully defended the title, before losing the belt to Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 in a bout that ended in a 13th-round technical knockout, with a bloodied LaMotta's defenseless and held up only by the ropes.

Boxer Jake LaMotta (Imago/UPI Photo)

LaMotta (right) alongside fellow boxing great Carmen Basilio in 1999.

Post-boxing career and prison

After hanging up his gloves, LaMotta entered the hospitality industry, managing bars and restaurants. However, he was arrested and charged in 1958 for introducing men to an underage girl who had entered his Miami nightclub. He was convicted of pimping and sentenced to six months on a chain gang at a Florida prison.

LaMotta would later also find new fame on the stand-up comedy circuit, recounting his life and career in punchy one-liners.

A funeral service is planned in Miami, where he lived, and New York City, where he was born, Baker said.

LaMotta is survived by his fiancée Baker and four daughters He lost his two sons back in 1998.

dm/xx (AP, AFP, dpa)

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