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Jake LaMotta, boxing legend and inspiration for "Raging Bull," dead at 95

FilmMagic/Robin Platzer
FilmMagic/Robin Platzer

FilmMagic/Robin PlatzerBoxing legend Jake LaMotta, who inspired the 1980 Oscar-winning film Raging Bull, died on Tuesday. He was 95. LaMotta’s wife, Denise Baker, confirmed his death to ABC News and said he died of complications from pneumonia.

The family is in the planning stages of his memorial and funeral and will celebrate his life in Miami and New York, Baker said.

LaMotta was a world middleweight championship in the late 1940s, but was a well-known brawler before winning the title. His six iconic fights against Sugar Ray Robinson spanned almost a decade.  In all, LaMotta was 83-19 with four draws.

His legacy was heightened after he retired from boxing in the mid-1950s. He decided to try his hand at acting and was cast in more than a dozen films. In 1980, he became the inspiration for Robert De Niro’s Oscar-winning performance in Martin Scorsese’s epic Raging Bull.

Upon the news of LaMotta’s passing, De Niro released a statement to ABC News, saying simply: “Rest in Peace, Champ.”

“He was a great man, sensitive and had eyes that danced right up to the end,” Baker said of her late husband.  “God rest his soul.  He never went down!”

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