By James Slater: Boxing legend and former middleweight king Jake LaMotta, “The Raging Bull” himself, today celebrates his 91st birthday. After all the ring wars he went through and after all his well-documented out of the ring exploits, old Jake is still in amazing shape, both mentally and physically.
Article posted on 11.07.2012
Truly a phenomenon, La Motta, who retired from the ring with an astonishing 83-19-4(30) record in April of 1954, has outlived his famous ring rivals by a considerable amount of time. The sublime Sugar Ray Robinson has been gone for over twenty years, Frenchman Laurent Dauthuille, against whom Jake scored that flabbergasting, come-from-behind, last 13-seconds of the 15th-round KO, passed away back in 1971.. Tony Janiro, the good looking kid Jake busted up (as immortalized in the classic movie starring Robert De Niro - “well, he ain’t good looking any more”) left us in 1985. And the list goes on.
Billy Fox, the fighter Jake infamously took a dive against so as to secure a title shot, is still with us, as are one or two other guys; but most of the fighters La Motta rumbled with are long gone. Yet here is Jake, looking for all the world as though he’s headed towards his hundredth birthday!
Blessed with one of the hardest, most durable chins in all of boxing, Jake took everything his opponents could dish out. Never has a harder man, mentally or physically, stepped into the ring. A self confessed bad guy outside of the ring in his younger days, the Jake of today is a celebrated piece of ring royalty; a treasured former warrior who is applauded for the way he was able to survive both the rough, tough mean streets of his upbringing and the ravages of the ring.
And there could be more to come from the Jake LaMotta story. Reports say a sequel to the majestic 1980 movie that immortalized Jake is in the works (Raging Bull II, anyone!). Sure, the original, Oscar-winning masterpiece told us all we really needed to know, but there are perhaps more events from Jake’s amazing life that are set to be splashed across the silver screen. Sequels, we are told, never live up to the original. That may be true in the movies, but a number of LaMotta’s fight sequels proved to be better than the original: his six-fight series with Sugar Ray proving that a series can get better and better and better.
Jake, (in the film at least) bellowed to Robinson in the 13th-round, after having taken a sickening beating that would have led to a far earlier referee-enforced stoppage today, that “you never got me down, Ray!” All these years later and Jake still hasn’t gone down for the count.
Happy birthday, Champ! And many more to come.