Jake LaMotta dead: Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro pay tribute to the 'Raging Bull' following death at 95

The inspiration behind the 1980 classic 'Raging Bull' died on Tuesday

Raging Bull boxer Jake LaMotta dies age 95

Film director Martin Scorsese has paid tribute to the “larger than life” Jake LaMotta following the death of the former world middleweight champion boxer.

LaMotta, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 95, was the inspiration behind Scorsese’s 1980’s classic Raging Bull, which starred Robert De Niro as a young LaMotta looking to earn himself a world title shot in the ring.

Scorsese met LaMotta on a number of occasions and agreed to direct the biographical film when he drew comparisons to the New York native’s story, with Raging Bull going on to attract critical claim for De Niro’s performance and the narrative of LaMotta’s life.

"He was, as they say, larger than life,” Scorsese said after LaMotta’s death. “He lived a tough life, with a lot to overcome, but that’s exactly what he did. I’m glad to have had the chance to know him.”

De Niro chose to keep his tribute to LaMotta to a short, four-word statement, which simply read: “Rest in Peace, Champ.”

LaMotta sparred with De Niro during his preparations for Raging Bull to ensure he fit the boxer image during filming, with the pair taking part in one-to-one sessions that left the professional impressed with the actor’s talents – LaMotta would later claim the De Niro could have fought professionally.

In 2013, De Niro spoke about their sparring sessions, and admitted he could not quite believe how well LaMotta could still take a punch despite his growing age. “I sparred with people with gear on, but we were careful,” De Niro told Time magazine. “We weren’t looking to kill anyone. Then I trained with Jake. He would say, ‘Hit me, don’t worry, don’t worry.’ He was 55, but he was really tough. I didn’t realise until I got to his age that you could still take a punch.”

De Niro sparred with LaMotta for his role in 'Raging Bull'

De Niro would go on to win an Oscar for his depiction of LaMotta, while Raging Bull was nominated for eight Academy Awards in total, including Best Picture and Best Director. Along with De Niro’s gong, the film also claimed the Best Editing award.

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