I'm the boss! I'm the boss! I'm the boss!
~ LaMotta's most famous line

Jake LaMotta is the protagonist villain of the 1980 film Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorsese. He is based on the real life boxer of the same name.

He was played by Robert De Niro, who also portrayed Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Part II, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, David "Noodles" Aaronson in Once Upon a Time in America, Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart, Al Capone in The Untouchables, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, Max Cady in Cape Fear, Dwight Hansen in This Boy's Life, Frankenstein's Monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Neil McCauley in Heat, Gil Renard in The Fan, Ace Rothstein in Casino, Louis Gara in Jackie Brown, Don Lino in Shark Tale, David Callaway in Hide and Seek, and Senator John McLaughlin in Machete.


Between 1941 and 1951, Jake LaMotta was a successful boxer, coached by his brother, Joey. Early on in the film, Jake is shown to be abusive towards his wife for not cooking his steak fast enough. He would regularly cheat on his wife and one time when he went out against her wishes, he met a young girl named Vicki. As Jake broke up with his wife, he started to date Vicki and they later married. Despite his new marriage, Jake was not satisfied as he feared that Vicki fancied other men. In the ring, Jake's boxing style was aggressive. An example of this is when he fought Tony Janiro and Jake was said to have "punched [Janiro's] nose to the other side of his face". This was out of sexual jealousy since Vicki commented that the Janiro looked cute.

It turned out that Joey was in contact with mob boss Tommy Como, who told Joey that Jake would have to take a dive if he wanted a shot at the championship title. Jake did not bother to put up a fight in his next match with Billy Fox, causing him to be suspended on suspicion of throwing the fight. Despite his suspension, Jake finally wins the middleweight championship against Marcel Cerdan in 1949.  

While he was successful in the boxing ring, his animalistic behavior destroyed his life outside. By 1950, Jake was extremely jealous and paranoid of his wife having sexual relationships with other men, including Joey. As such, Jake was abusive towards Vicki and regularly beat her up. One day, Jake interrogated Vicki as to whether she had sex with Joey. Vicki hid from Jake in the bathroom and Jake forced his way in. Jake beat Vicki some more, and she sarcastically admitted the affair and screamed that she had sex with the whole neighborhood. This caused Jake to fly into a rage and gave Joey a brutal beating in his own house and in front of his family. After this incident, Jake managed to convince Vicki to stay with him, but Jake and Joey stopped speaking to each other and this took a toll of Jake's boxing career. Jake lost his final match in 1951 and retired soon after. Vicki still stayed with Jake only for the money. In 1956, Vicki had enough of Jake and left him, taking their kids with her.

Following his retirement, Jake became a nightclub owner and started a comedy career. His comedy was unpopular, and he was often heckled. By 1957, things started to go wrong for Jake when he unwittingly allowed 14 year old girls into his club. He was arrested and jailed for this. During is prison sentence, Jake started to realize he was being punished for his bad actions and pounded the walls of his cell in sorrow. In 1958, Jake met his estranged brother Joey. Following an awkward meeting, the two finally forgive each other and they hugged. The film ends with Jake preparing for a comedy routine.


  • Robert De Niro read the autobiography of Jake LaMotta while filming The Godfather: Part II and immediately saw the potential for a film to make with his collaborator, Martin Scorsese. It took over four years for De Niro to convince everyone, including Scorsese, to get on-board for this film.
  • When the real Jake LaMotta saw the movie, he said it made him realize for the first time what a terrible person he had been. He asked the real Vicki LaMotta "Was I really like that?". Vicki replied "You were worse."
  • In preparation for the role, Robert De Niro went through extensive physical training, then entered in three genuine Brooklyn boxing matches and won two of them.
    • Also while preparing for the role, De Niro met with LaMotta and became very well acquainted with him. They spent the entire shoot together, so De Niro could portray his character accurately. LaMotta said that De Niro has the ability to be a contender, and that he would have been happy to be his manager and trainer.
  • Robert De Niro did as many as one thousand rounds, when training with the real Jake LaMotta. He thought De Niro had what it took to become a professional contender.
  • It was claimed in the film that Jake LaMotta was never knocked down, but in real life, LaMotta was knocked down by Danny Nardico in a fight in Coral Gables, Florida.
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