Jake LaMotta, real life inspiration behind Raging Bull, dies aged 95

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer

Jake LaMotta, the boxer who inspired Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning classic ‘Raging Bull,’ has died.

LaMotta, who was 95 years old, reportedly passed away in a nursing home after complications from pneumonia. His daughter Christi LaMotta confirmed the sad news with a tribute to her father on Facebook.

Born in the Bronx in 1921, LaMotta became a professional middleweight boxer at the age of 19, and won the World Middleweight Championship title from Marcel Cerdan in 1949. However, he was best known for a long rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, who he fought on six occasions, winning only once.

LaMotta went on to work as an actor and comedian, and wrote his memoir ‘Raging Bull: My Story’ in 1970. This would form the basis of Scorcese’s 1980 film, famed for Robert De Niro’s powerhouse lead performance which won him the Best Actor Oscar.

Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in 1980’s ‘Raging Bull’ (credit: Warner Bros)

Famously, ‘Raging Bull’ shut down production for four months midway through to allow De Niro time to gain enough weight to portray an older LaMotta in the final scenes. The film also marked the first time Joe Pesci collaborated with Scorcese and De Niro; the three men would reunite on ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino,’ and will soon work together again on ‘The Irishman.’

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