Raging Bull: The story of the real Jake LaMotta

Thomas Hauser on the boxer who has passed away aged 95 and was portrayed by Robert de Niro

Jake LaMotta,

In this June 16, 1949, file photo, Jake LaMotta, left, pounds Marcel Cerdan in third round of a world middleweight title bout in Detroit, Mich. LaMotta won the title by a knockout in the tenth round. LaMotta, whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” died Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia. He was 95. AP/Press Association Images

For many of us, the boxing career of Jake LaMotta was not at all contemporary.

But thanks to iconic Martin Scorsese movie Raging Bull, the Bronx born fighter's life was brought to life for a whole new audience in 1980 with the legendary Robert de Niro portraying him in a critically acclaimed performance.

Earlier today, LaMotta passed away at the age of 95 in Florida and tonight, we were joined acclaimed boxing writer Thomas Hauser to look back at his life and career in and out of the ring.

"Jake LaMotta was a very, very good fighter in what many people consider to be a golden age of boxing," he explained.

You can watch more official footage of the movie at Movie CLIP on Youtube 

"He would have been competitive in any era. He was competitive against Sugar Ray Robinson, although for five of those six fights, he was the naturally larger man and certainly gave him an edge in that category."

The movie Raging Bull had a major role in shaping his legacy and indeed extending his presence beyond his career in the ring. 

"The movie Raging Bull gave him immortality. If it wasn't for that movie, I don't know would we be having the same conversations today," Hauser explained, before pointing out the unsavoury aspects of LaMotta's behaviour outside the ring.

"It's also important to remember about Jake LaMotta that he was a violent man outside the ring and that should not be celebrated. He was horribly abusive physically to several of his wives - most notably Vicky LaMotta who he beat up on multiple occasions and people have to understand that this just wasn't an isolated flap or punch which itself would have been unforgivable," said Hauser.

"These were sustained beatings that he administered to Vicky. You can't really make a role model out of somebody like that because that is unacceptable behaviour." 

You can listen to the full interview with Hauser on the podcast player: