Jake LaMotta, boxing champion immortalised in Raging Bull - obituary

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Boxer Jake LaMotta, the former world middleweight champion and the inspiration for the movie Raging Bull, has died at the age of 95.

His daughter Christi LaMotta announced the death on her personal Facebook page but did not disclose the cause of death.

LaMotta handed Sugar Ray Robinson his first defeat and reigned for almost two years as middleweight champion during a time boxing was one of America's biggest sports.

LaMotta was born July 10, 1922, on New York City's Lower East Side but was raised in the Bronx.

"I fought Sugar Ray so many times I'm surprised I didn't get diabetes", LaMotta later joked about their rivalry, per Sports Illustrated.

Boxing instruction during a teenage stint in reform school for burglary - boyhood friend and fellow fighter Rocky Graziano was there at the same time - smoothed his style, and LaMotta was fighting professionally when he was 19. LaMotta sent Robinson sprawling on the ropes in the eighth round, and the bell rang seconds before the match likely would have ended in a knockout. "Somebody, somebody up there is trying to tell me something", he said.

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Immortalised in 1980 by the Academy Award-winning film Raging Bull, starring Robert De Niro, LaMotta was world champion from 1949-51. On that fight, LaMotta kept getting beat badly by Robinson and Robinson eventually won via 13th round TKO.

An International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, LaMotta is considered one of the 10 greatest middleweights of all time by Ring Magazine.

Although Robinson won that series 5-1, LaMotta was able to inflict a first career defeat on him in February 1943 before losing to the same man a matter of three weeks later.

LaMotta is survived by his four daughters.

The referee stopped the fight in the fourth round as Fox pounded LaMotta, who was not defending himself. The victim of the 1951 "St Valentine's Day Massacre" had just lost to Sugar Ray Robinson for the fifth time.

He apologized: "I thought I was right then". He also appeared as different characters in five episodes of the sitcom auto 54, Where Are You? in the '60s. De Niro, meanwhile, famously packed on over 50 pounds to depict LaMotta in middle age.

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