The after dinner speaking circuit for boxing’s present and former champions is currently enjoying a roaring trade. Most notably, the charity event arranged by Nigel Benn’s agent Kevin Leushing – himself no mug between the ropes – for Gerald McClellan the most conspicuous example of the demand for these evenings. Regulars on the circuit include Ricky Hatton, Joe Frazier and Roberto Duran who have all had big evenings advertised. And all are worthy attractions. But to me, next months’ tour by former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta is a particularly special occasion.Jake LaMotta was synonymous with heart, courage and no shortage of ability as the former champion but his career is further illuminated and magnified by his rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, arguably the finest fighter of all time, against whom he fought five times. He may only have won one of those five but the contests were of such elite quality and intensity that both fighters emerge with almost equal credit.
Victories over Marcel Cerdan, Fritzie Zivic as well as Robinson set the Bronx born puncher with the granite chin apart from most of the middleweights that preceded and followed him but events out of the ring also served to further establish his name in the consciousness of the public and in boxing folklore. Firstly, his later admittance that he threw a 1947 encounter with Billy Fox to facilitate a shot at the title drew dissent and public furore and later Robert DeNiro’s Oscar winning portrayal of LaMotta in The Raging Bull further enriched his renown.
At 84, LaMotta has decided this will be the last time he tours the UK and for that reason, as well as the one’s documented above, the tickets look tremendous value at £45 with a comedian and three course meal thrown in to.
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