Book: Raging Bull: My Story

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Raging Bull: My Story

Author: Jake La Motta, Joseph Carter, Peter Savage
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Meet Jake La Motta: thief, rapist, killer. Raised in the Bronx slums, he fought on the streets, got sent to reform school, and served time in prison. Trusting no one, slugging everyone, he beat his wife, his best friends, even the mobsters who kept the title just out of reach. But the same forces that made him criminal—fear, rage, jealousy, self-hate, guilt—combined with his drive and intelligence to make him a winner in the ring. At age 27, after eight years of fighting, he became Middleweight Champion of the World, a hero to thousands. Then, at the peak of success, he fell apart, and began a swift, harrowing descent into nightmare. Raging Bull, the Bronx Bull’s brutally candid memoir, tells it all—fights, jails, sex, money—surpassing, in hard-hitting prose, even the movie that immortalized it.


In prose as straightforward and at times as brutal as his style in the ring, former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta wove together an unforgettable autobiography: first published in 1970, Raging Bull was violent, candid, primitive, smart, and altogether powerful. It still is. His story, adapted for the screen in 1980 by Martin Scorsese in the Oscar-winning film starring Robert De Niro, is filled with anger—at his father for beating him, at the neighborhood he grew up in, at the petty criminal he became, at the Mob that tried to keep him from the title because he wouldn’t take a dive—and real candor about the dive he did take (out in the real world when his boxing career was over). While most of LaMotta’s anger was self-directed, he harnessed enough of it to power him to 83 victories in 106 fights, and a two-year hold on a championship belt. His recounting of his ring wars with Sugar Ray Robinson and Marcel Cerdan remain as convincingly primal on the page as they were in the arena.

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Film:Raging Bull

Raging Bull

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s brutal black-and-white biography of self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta was chosen as the best film of the 1980s in a major critics’ poll at the end of the decade, and it’s a knockout piece of filmmaking. Robert De Niro plays LaMotta (famously putting on 50 pounds for the later scenes), a man tormented by demons he doesn’t understand and prone to uncontrollably violent temper tantrums and fits of irrational jealousy. He marries a striking young blond (Cathy Moriarty), his sexual ideal, and then terrorizes her with never-ending accusations of…

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