Jake LaMotta was born Giacobe LaMotta on July 10, 1921 in the Bronx, New York. His father introduced him to boxing at a young age by making him fight other children in the neighborhood. He was sent to reform school for a while, but became a professional boxer in 1941.
In 1942, LaMotta faced off with Sugar Ray Robinson, losing after 10 rounds by decision. The next year, they fought two more fights, with Jake winning the first one, making him the first person to beat Sugar Ray Robinson in his 41 fight career. He didn't fight him again until 1945, but LaMotta lost the bout.
Aside from Robinson, LaMotta also won important fights against Tommy Bell, Holman Williams, and George Kochan, along with many other heavyweights. In 1948, his career hit a low point when he was knocked out in only four rounds by Billy Fox. To this day, Jake refuses to talk about the fight in public and is embarrassed by it.
In 1949, he was placed in a match against Marcel Cerdan, the world champion of boxing at the time. Cerdan dislocated his arm in the first round, but continued fighting, eventually giving up in the tenth round. LaMotta was declared world champion of boxing and agreed to a rematch to please Cerdan. However, as Cerdan was flying back to the United States for the rematch, his plane crashed and he died.
LaMotta successfully defended his world champion title in 1950 against Laurent Dauthuille and Tiberio Mitri. The fight against Dauthuille was very close, but LaMotta managed to knock him out in the 15th round and retain the title. In 1951, he met Sugar Ray Robinson again, making it their sixth fight. Jake fought hard and refused to give up, despite receiving tremendous damage from Robinson. In the 13th round, Robinson was declared winner by technical knockout when LaMotta lay on the ropes to rest. As he left the ring, LaMotta defiantly told Robinson, "You couldn't drop me! You never dropped me!"
In 1953, he was forced to testify in hearings that were being conducted against the mafia. In one of the hearings, LaMotta admitted having deliberately lost to Billy Fox in 1948 in order to get his fight with Marcel Cerdan. The confession greatly damaged his reputation in the eyes of both the media and the public.
Jake fought three fights in 1954 and retired from boxing, leaving behind a prestigious career. By the end of his boxing career, his record included an impressive 83 wins, 19 losses, and 4 draws. After retiring from boxing, LaMotta bought several bars and started a mediocre career as an actor and comedian.
In 1980, Martin Scorsese directed an epic motion picture about Jake's life that remains one of the greatest of all time. Jake was played by Robert de Niro, who gained a massive 60 pounds in order to resemble Jake during the later scenes. The movie depicted LaMotta as very violent and paranoid, particularly one scene that showed him beating his manager after accusing him of having an affair with his wife. After seeing the movie, LaMotta said that it had finally made him realize what a horrible person he had been during his younger years.
In 1998, LaMotta's son died tragically when an airplane crashed in Canada.
Jake has written a number of novels about his life and continues to tour the country, giving lectures and attending banquets.