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Jake LaMotta, Boxer Immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ Dies at 95

Peter Kramer, Getty Images
Peter Kramer, Getty Images

Jake LaMotta, the boxer dubbed the “Bronx Bull” and immortalized by Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull, has died at the age of 95. LaMotta passed away Tuesday in a nursing home, members of his family told TMZ, from complications from pneumonia, his wife said.

LaMotta’s wife said, “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.” LaMotta was rejected from serving in the military in 1941 due to a medical issue, and it was this rejection that launched his legendary boxing career. He was a middleweight champ, a mamber of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, 83-19-4 in 106 pro fights, the most well-known of those his six-fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, of which LaMotta won one.

“I was able to convince my body that I could take it and nobody could hurt me,” he told Esquire in 2012. “I might’ve gotten cut, stitches over my eyes. Broken nose. Broken hands. But I never really got hurt.”

His exploits were depicted in the 1980 film Raging Bull, for which Robert De Niro won the Academy Award for Best Actor. “He would say, ‘Hit me, don’t worry, don’t worry,’” De Niro recalled in a 2013 interview with Time magazine. “He was 55, but he was really tough. I didn’t realize until I got to his age [how hard it is to] still take a punch.”

Robert De Niro released a statement upon hearing of LaMotta’s death: “Rest in Peace, Champ.”

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