Sports

Legendary boxer LaMotta dies

Jake LaMotta, the legendary former world middleweight boxing champion whose wild life and times inspired the Oscar-winning movie "Raging Bull", has died at age 95.

LaMotta, an iconic boxing figure in the 1950s best known for a brutal six-fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, died on Tuesday, the boxer's daughter Christi LaMotta said on Facebook.

LaMotta's seventh wife, Denise Baker, told the TMZ.com website that the fighter died in a nursing home following complications from pneumonia.

Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar playing LaMotta in the 1980 classic "Raging Bull", led the tributes, saying in a statement: "Rest in peace, champ."

In a career from 1941 to 1954, LaMotta scored 83 victories, 30 of them knockouts, against 19 defeats, according to the boxing statistics website BoxRec.

On June 16, 1949, he won the middleweight title with a knockout win over French boxer Marcel Cerdan.

After two successful defences, he lost the belt in 1951 in his sixth bout against Robinson. The final fight with Robinson took place on Feb 14, 1951, and was dubbed the "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre".

LaMotta, his eyes badly swollen, refused to go down and endured a savage beating before the contest was stopped in the 13th round with LaMotta clinging onto the ropes.

"He's the toughest guy I ever fought, I never knew anyone who was more aggressive and rough as he," Robinson said years later.

LaMotta retired in 1954 after a defeat by Billy Kilgore in Miami. Decades later, his remarkable and often violent life story was brought to a wider audience with Martin Scorsese's spellbinding "Raging Bull".

The film charted LaMotta's rise, his abusive second marriage, as well as his dramatic post-boxing fall.

"When I saw the film, I was upset," LaMotta said.

"I kind of look bad in it. Then I realised it was true. It's not the way I am now, but the way I was then." - AFP