Giacobe LaMotta (born July 10, 1921), better known as Jake LaMotta, is a former boxer who was world middleweight champion and whose life was as controversial outside the ring as it was inside.
LaMotta, who compiled a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and 4 draws with 30 wins by way of knockout, was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson, when he dropped Robinson in the first round and outpointed him over the course of ten rounds during the second fight of their legendary six bout rivalry. LaMotta lost five of those. In 1948, he was knocked out in four rounds by Billy Fox (who was played by world boxing champion Eddie Mustapha Muhammad in Raging Bull, a 1980s movie about LaMotta's life). The fight with Fox would come back to haunt him back later in life.
LaMotta won the world title in 1949 in Detroit against Frenchman Marcel Cerdan, who was the world champion. Cerdan, called by many boxing critics the greatest champion ever from France, dislocated his arm in the first round and gave up before the start of the tenth, the official scoring being LaMotta winner by a knockout in ten because the bell had already rung to begin that round when Cerdan announced he was quitting. A rematch was signed, but while Cerdan was flying back to the United States to fight the rematch, his Air France Caravelle crashed at the Azores, killing everyone on board. LaMotta met two challengers and beat them, and then he was challenged by Robinson on their rivalry's sixth fight. Held on February 14, 1951, the fight became known as boxing's version of The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won by a technical knockout in the thirteenth round, when the fight was stopped with LaMotta laying on the ropes. LaMotta approached him afterwards and muttered You couldn't drop me! You never dropped me! to Robinson's ears.
In 1953, LaMotta shocked the sports world when he was called to testify by the FBI in the hearings they were holding against some mafia groups. LaMotta said during the hearing, perhaps not realizing that he was also harming his own image, that he had thrown the fight in 1948 with Billy Fox in exchange for a shot against world champion Cerdan. This fight haunted him ever since, and it is a subject he refuses to talk about in public to this day.
After retirement, he bought a few bars and became a stage actor and stand up comedian. In 1980, Hollywood executives approached him with the idea of a movie about his life, which was filmed with Robert De Niro playing LaMotta. De Niro gained apx. 60 pounds during the shooting of the film, to play a corpulent older La Motta in the later scenes.
The movie depicted a violent and problematic LaMotta who once even went as far as beating his own brother, manager Joey LaMotta, accusing him and his wife (Vicky LaMotta, who once posed for Playboy magazine) of having an affair.
Legend has it that after attending the premiere with his already ex-wife, LaMotta told her he could not believe he was that bad.
Another plane crash would affect LaMott'a life in 1998, when his son, Jake LaMotta Jr., a noted chef, died in the Swissair flight that crashed in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Today, LaMotta does many tours across the United States to banquets and lectures he holds, and a series of books about his life, his fights with Robinson and other matters about his life have been published. LaMotta is also an avid autograph signer.
He is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.