Jake LaMotta, one of the greatest middleweight champions in boxing history, passed away today. He was 95 years old.
LaMotta was one of the premier boxers in the 1940s and his turbulent life led to Robert De Niro's portrayal of LaMotta in the 1980 film "Raging Bull."
The former world champion died because of complications from pneumonia and was in a nursing home in Miami, according to his wife, Denise Baker, who talked to ABC about LaMotta's death. LaMotta's wife said the family is in the planning stages of his memorial and funeral.
"He was a great man, sensitive and had eyes that danced right up to the end. I love him, God rest his soul," Baker said. "And he never went down!"
LaMotta is probably best known inside the ring for his uncanny toughness and unrelenting insistence on fighting as many boxing fights as possible. His rivalry against Sugar Ray Robinson throughout the 1940s is still regarded as one of the greatest boxing rivalries in the history of the sport, the last of which is still known to this day as boxing's own version of the St. Valentines Day Massacre. On that fight, LaMotta kept getting beat badly by Robinson and Robinson eventually won via 13th round TKO.
Despite the great praise that boxing pundits have given to LaMotta, his in-ring career was not without its fair share of controversies.
On November 14, 1947 at Madison Square Garden, LaMotta was knocked out in four rounds by Billy Fox. Suspecting that the fight was fixed, the New York State Athletic Commission withheld purses for the fight and suspended LaMotta. In his testimony and in his later book, LaMotta admitted to throwing the fight to gain favor with the Mafia as the Mafia had control over most of the boxing world in New York City.
LaMotta went 83-19-4 with 30 knockouts in a career that lasted from 1941 to 1954. He fought multiple times in a month several times, earning a reputation as a brawler throughout the sport and the nickname Bronx Bull and Raging Bull.
LaMotta's autobiography, "Raging Bull," was published in 1970 and got the ball rolling for the now famous film of the same name. Ten years after the book was released, director Martin Scorsese made the movie based on the book starring De Niro as LaMotta. De Niro would later end up winning an Academy Award for Best Actor, and the movie collected one other Oscar (Best Film Editing) and eight total nominations, including Best Picture.
LaMotta would later be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.