Jake LaMotta: Going, Going…Strong

By Robert Ecksel on July 21, 2014
Jake LaMotta: Going, Going…Strong
A waiter brought the 92-year-old birthday boy a cake with a single candle. (Robert Ecksel)

The champ was eating at the Copper Queen Hotel—the former stomping ground of John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Ronald Reagan…

Boxers are superhuman. Many die badly and die young, but it goes with the territory. They die badly because they don’t manage their money (they let their money manage them). They die young because boxing, the ultimate in competition, as a rule defeats its participants.

But there are exceptions. Some fighters live to a ripe old age with their wealth and wits intact. I’m not sure about his wealth, but one fighter whose wits haven’t abandoned him is former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta.

The Bronx Bull recently celebrated his 92nd birthday over the weekend in Bisbee, Arizona, with his wife. The champ was seen eating a cheeseburger at the Copper Queen Hotel—the former stomping ground of John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Ronald Reagan.

A waiter brought the birthday boy a cake with a single candle. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” That the Copper Queen Hotel overlooks Tombstone Canyon might spook some people, but Jake thought it was less macabre than ironic.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:50pm, 07/21/2014

    The only time he got a clear decision win over Fritzie Zivic was when Fritzie hurt his hand in the first round of the last go round of their four bouts….but for that…. it more than likely would have been a split going either way once again. Natural welterweight Fritzie wasn’t afraid to go down the much feared Black Murderers Row and he sure as fudge wasn’t afraid of Jake.

  2. nicolas 09:25am, 07/21/2014

    I think the reason some of these boxers live to a long age and some do not, are what they do after boxing. In LaMotta’s case I think the 1980 movie really made him feel the same way he may have felt during his great boxing years. Also later on he did the auto commentary for the special edition of Raging Bull. If you ever get to hear that commentary, it is very interesting from LaMotta, and is even more interesting than all the others, even by Scorsese that was originally done for the Criterion Laser disc. I always found it very interesting that the champs from Jess Willard to Max Schmelling lived past 80, with the last two living past 90, and the only other one to make it past 80 was Jersey Joe Walcott, who just made it past 80.  It would be interesting if a study was done, and we looked at the fighters who lived longer than the norm what was there reasons why.

  3. Clarence George 06:12am, 07/21/2014

    An appropriate venue to wish Happy Birthday to Gene Fullmer, who turns 83 today.  Is he doing well?  I certainly hope so.

  4. Eric 05:59am, 07/21/2014

    When you consider the amount of punches that LaMotta took over the course of his boxing career, his lifestyle during his career, and afterwards, he’s definitely beat the odds to be doing so well at 92. Ken Norton dies at 70 and LaMotta still kicking at 92? Doesn’t really add up. After Norton’s car accident, Ken was working out again, looking almost as fit and strong as he had years earlier. LaMotta and George Chuvalo are good examples. All the mental anguish that Chuvalo went through with his family, the massive amount of punches from Frazier, Ali, Foreman, Quarry, Bonavena, etc., and yet he looks 10-15 years younger than his real age. The health freak down the road dies of a heart attack at 50, and the “other guy” drinks like a fish, smokes a couple of packs a day, and yet lives to see his 80th birthday. Genetics play a huge role.

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