'Raging Bull' Jake LaMotta dies aged 96

Former middleweight world champion Jake LaMotta has died at the age of 96.

LaMotta, who was the subject of the 1980 movie Raging Bull, had 106 professional fights - six of which were against the great Sugar Ray Robinson.

Denise Baker, LaMotta's wife, told TMZ that her husband died in a nursing home from complications of pneumonia.

She said: "I just want people to know, he was a great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humor, with eyes that danced."

His daughter, Christi LaMotta, also confirmed her father's passing on Facebook. 

LaMotta, a Bronx native, earned the nickname 'Raging Bull' and the film bearing that name was nominated for eight Academy Awards. Robert DeNiro won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of LaMotta.

After being rejected for military service during World War II for a mastoid operation on one of his ears, LaMotta, 19 at the time, turned to professional boxing.

He was unbeaten in his first 15 fights and went on to win 83 bouts, 30 by knockout. His first boxing rivalry was Cleveland native Jimmy Reeves. LaMotta won a controversial decision over Reeves in October 1941, but lost a rematch a month later.

A third fight in March 1943 ended with LaMotta knocking out Reeves in the sixth round.  

LaMotta's first fight against Robinson was in 1942, the latter winning a 10-round unanimous decision. LaMotta's only victory over Robinson was the following February - with LaMotta fighting five times between the Robinson bouts.

LaMotta and Robinson met again three weeks later, resulting in Robinson scoring another unanimous decision. While LaMotta famously knocked Robinson to the canvas multiple times during their fights, he maintained that Robinson never knocked him down despite losing five of the six matches.

When LaMotta met Billy Fox in November 1947, LaMotta was knocked out in the fourth round and the New York State Athletic Commission withheld the purse believing the fight was fixed.

LaMotta won the world middleweight title in 1949 with a win over Marcel Cerdan. After two more title defences, LaMotta and Robinson met again in 1951. Dubbed the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Robinson bloodied LaMotta with a brutal beating, but LaMotta refused to go down. The fight was stopped in the 13th round.

Ranked as one of 10 best middleweights of all time by Ring Magazine, LaMotta was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

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