'Raging Bull' fighter LaMotta dies at age 95

(Photo by Michael Brennan/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- Jake LaMotta, the legendary brawling middleweight boxing champion who was portrayed by Robert De Niro in the 1980 movie "Raging Bull," died at the age of 95.

LaMotta passed away Tuesday due to complications from pneumonia and was in a nursing home in Miami, his wife, Denise Baker, told ABC.

"He was a great man, sensitive and had eyes that danced right up to the end. I love him, God rest his soul," Baker told ABC. "And he never went down!"

"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," she told TMZ.

Based on LaMotta's 1970 autobiography, "Raging Bull," the movie depicts an emotional fighter struggling with life outside the ring. The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, earned De Niro an Academy Award for Best Actor. The movie collected one other Oscar (Best Film Editing) and eight total nominations, including for Best Picture.

In the wake of LaMotta's death, De Niro released a statement: "Rest in peace, champ."

"When I saw the film, I was upset," LaMotta said. "I kind of look bad in it. Then I realized it was true. That's the way it was. I was a no-good bastard. I realize it now. It's not the way I am now, but the way I was then."

LaMotta, known as brawler in the ring with the nickname Bronx Bull, held the middleweight title from 1949 to 1951 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. He went 83-19-4 with 30 knockouts in his 14-year, 106-bout career that lasted from 1941 to 1954.

LaMotta faced rival Sugar Ray Robinson for the first of their six epic fights on Oct. 2, 1942, at New York's Madison Square Garden. Robinson, fighting as a welterweight, was 35-0 with 27 knockouts at the time when he won a 10-round unanimous decision.

LaMotta and Robinson fought twice in the same month the following year at Detroit's Olympia Stadium. On Feb. 5, 1943, LaMotta handed Robinson his first defeat with a 10-round unanimous decision, but three weeks later Robinson took the rematch in a unanimous decision.

Robinson later defeated LaMotta twice in 1945, including a 12-round split decision.

LaMotta's middleweight belt was on the line on Feb. 14, 1951, against Robinson, who was the welterweight champ. The clash became known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre as LaMotta could not avoid Robinson's punches throughout the one-sided fight, which was stopped in the 13th round.

In 1960, LaMotta appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly that was investigating organized crime's ties to boxing. He admitted to the committee that he agreed to take a dive in one of his fights.

Updated September 20, 2017

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