The "bronx Bull"
Jake LaMotta was born Giacobe LaMotta on July 10, 1921 on the Lower East Side of New York, and was first encouraged to fight at a very young age by his father, who collected the coins thrown into the street by enthusiastic onlookers to help pay the family's bills. LaMotta spent time in reform school after a failed jewelry store robbery and had an estimated 1,000 street fights before beginning his pro boxing career at age nineteen, a career most remembered for his six fights with Sugar Ray Robinson.
LaMotta first fought Robinson in New York in 1942 in a fight that Robinson won on a decision. In 1943 they met twice in Detroit in fights that were held twenty-one days apart. In the initial fight, Robinson experienced his first career loss in forty-one professional fights, then took a decision in the second match. Robinson won in a
ten-round decision in 1945 in New York, but LaMotta was beating other top fighters from the welterweight to light heavyweight divisions. They included Fritzie Zivic, Tommy Bell, George Kochan, Bert Lytell, Jose Basora, Holman Williams, Bob Satterfield, and Tony Janiro. "He was not a special talent," wrote Steve Bunce in Scotland on Sunday, "just a 'tough, young punk,' as he was once referred to by the former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, whose restaurant on 51st and Broadway was the last resort for the fight fraternity in New York. His initial nickname, before the Bronx Bull stuck, was 'One-man Gang.' That is exactly how he fought."