What the Real Jake LaMotta Really Thought About Raging Bull

In 1980, former boxer Jake LaMotta saw his life unfold on the silver screen when director Martin Scorsese released a film adaptation of his memoir Raging Bull: My Story. Beautifully shot in black and white, Jake watched his story come to life as future Oscar winner Robert De Niro portrays him. Notably, LaMotta’s story from street kid to world middleweight champion was a far cry from Cinderella’s. In the film, Jake is portrayed as a jealous, abusive man who seemed to self-destruct not only his career but also his personal life. So what was it like for the real Jake LaMotta to see his story turned into a movie? What did he think of Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull”?

Before LaMotta’s death in 2017, he explained his opinion of the film to various media outlets. According to Vanity Fair, LaMotta was partly involved in the making of the film when he helped Robert De Niro train to get into boxing shape. However, according to NPR, it wasn’t until he actually saw the actual movie, when he saw his personal life play out in front of him, that he fully understood the meaning of the picture. “I don’t look good in it,” LaMotta said. “Then I realized it was true.”

AT interview with Liam Galvin, LaMotta said that after seeing scenes of his own abusive behavior, he turned to his wife and asked, “Was that how I was in real life?” She replied, “You were worse.” When De Niro talked about LaMotta on The Merv Griffin Show, he admitted that he was sure LaMotta had a hard time watching the movie. However, despite LaMotta’s concerns about his own image, De Niro reported that the legendary boxer told him that he was “happy the movie turned out well.”

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