The St Valentine’s Day Massacre: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Jake LaMotta
By Simon Graham
“I fought Ray so many times it’s a wonder I didn’t get diabetes” joked The Bronx Bull Jake Lamotta reminiscing about the amount of times he fought arguably the best Pound for Pound Boxer of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson.
Robinson and LaMotta fought each other a total of 6 times, Robinson victorious in 5 of those meetings however LaMotta’s win in their second fight in 1943 handed Robinson his first ever defeat following his 40 professional wins.
Chicago Stadium on St. Valentine’s Day in 1951 saw the world middleweight champion LaMotta defend his title against the world welterweight champion Robinson, Ring Magazine listed the fight in their top 5 all-time greatest fights, the 6th meeting between the two was their last and final battle it was a gruesome, bloody and brutal affair.
The first 8 rounds had LaMotta ahead with his marauding no nonsense all guns blazing approach keeping Robinson on the back foot, The Bronx Bull blasted away body punches hard left hooks and for much of the fight beat Robinson to the jab. In reply Robinson’s sublime ‘stick and move’ style and ring genius saw him surge forward and control the fight through rounds 9, 10 11, 12. Going into the 13th round the Bronx Bull bloodied, battered and suffering from fractured ribs, readied himself for one last stand desperate to hold on to his middleweight crown.
As the bell sounded for round 13 Sugar Ray attacked LaMotta pulverising him with sharp jabs and eye-catching hurtful combinations all the while utilising his superior slick foot work to avoid LaMotta’s attempts at counterpunching, the rage from the bull was quickly diminishing as Robinson moved in for the kill.
Visibly tired and seemingly unable to hold his hands up LaMotta stood up to the best punches Robinson could throw, 3 consecutive left hooks sent LaMotta flying into the ropes, sensing victory Robinson surged forward reigning in blow after blow on his defenceless nemesis eager to knock out the Bronx Bull. Clinging on to the ropes the referee mercifully stepped in to save LaMotta from the brutality of Robinsons barrage of punches saving him from a certain KO.
Defiant in defeat and almost proud of his bloodied pulverised face LaMotta through gritted teeth taunted Sugar Ray “You never got me down Ray, you never got me down”
I was extremely lucky to meet Jake LaMotta back in 2012, although a shadow of his former self, I got the chance to ask him, “Did you really say those words to Sugar Ray Robinson?” “Son” with a glint in his eyes he replied “There was no way I was going down. I don’t go down for nobody.”