When Jake LaMotta, subject of ‘Raging Bull’, came to Meriden

When Jake LaMotta, subject of ‘Raging Bull’, came to Meriden


MERIDEN — When middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta visited Meriden in 1991 he had long since traded in his boxing gloves for a microphone, which he used during his stand up comedy act.

LaMotta, the subject of the 1980 film “Raging Bull” starring Robert DeNiro, died this week at the age of 95.

Former City Councilor Tony Tomassetti said LaMotta agreed to perform at his brother Danny Tomassetti’s stag party. Tony Tomassetti picked LaMotta up at the airport on Sept. 20, 1991, and spent the day giving the legendary boxer a tour of the city before the party. LaMotta was 69 at the time and said he had “mellowed out” considerably since the his boxing heyday, according to Record-Journal archives.

LaMotta had previously visited the city in 1987 to speak at a Lions Club meeting about the upcoming match between Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. At the time he commented about contemporary boxers “sissifying” the sport.

“Athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster but they’re not tougher because they stop the fights as soon as someone gets a cut,” LaMotta said during the meeting. “I believe in mercy killing. Destroying the guy.”

LaMotta fought in 106 professional boxing matches, winning 83. After retiring from the sport, LaMotta tried his hand at stand-up comedy and acting, appearing in the 1961 film “The Hustler.”

While showing LaMotta around the city, Tomassetti recalled the champion boxer saying he didn’t own a copy of “Raging Bull.” Tomassetti made a stop at a local video store to purchase LaMotta a copy.

“He was a nice guy,” Tomassetti said. “Quiet, but nice.”

LaMotta performed later that night to a big crowd at Mountainside Outing Club in Wallingford for Danny Tomassetti’s stag party.

ltauss@record-journal.com 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

Support Quality Local Journalism

Latest Videos