Jake LaMotta, the famous boxer portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the Martin Scorsese-directed 1980 classic Raging Bull, has died, aged 95.
His daughter, Christi, confirmed the death Tuesday evening on Facebook, writing, “Jake LaMotta July 10, 1922 – September 19, 2017 – Rest in Peace Pop.”
Denise Baker, the former champ’s wife, told TMZ Wednesday that her husband died in a nursing home due to complications from pneumonia. Another family member told TMZ LaMotta’s health had been deteriorating in the last few weeks, and that a decision was made to withdraw his feeding tube.
“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,” Baker told TMZ.
DeNiro commented on his passing Wednesday, saying in a statement, “Rest in Peace, Champ.”
The Bronx native began his boxing career in 1941 after he was rejected from serving in the military because of a medical issue. The title for Scorsese’s film is based on his nickname, which he earned for his rough style in the ring as a middleweight fighter.
The film won De Niro the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1980 and was based on LaMotta’s own autobiography.
LaMotta was once a World Middleweight Champion, but his most famous fights were his six with Sugar Ray Robinson, only one of which he won.
“The three toughest fighters I fought were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times I’m surprised I’m not diabetic,” he once said, according to the Financial Times.