Did Robert De Niro Face Real Boxers to Prepare for Raging Bull?- Unknown Facts After 41 Years of Release

Published 12/20/2021, 8:00 AM EST


Robert De Niro replicated one of the finest boxing movies of all time with the tremendous success of his 1980 Hollywood film Raging Bull. For decades, several filmmakers have displayed the boxing culture on big screens and many movies graced the movie theaters. However, Raging Bull stands out amongst all for several causes.

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Director Martin Scorsese unveiled a sporting movie with little tech support, which modern-day filmmakers relish. However, Raging Bull still showcased an exceptional storyline and the boxing choreography was absolutely on point. That said, De Niro offered a lot to hone his pugilistic skills, and, for that, he also entered real scraps before filming.

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41 years after its release, a lot of unknown facts have come into the limelight. De Niro went through some regressive training regime to prepare himself for the character of Jake LaMotta. He even fought three genuine boxing matches in Brooklyn, New York. Interestingly, Robert DeNiro won two of those bouts.

The masterpiece of a movie, Raging Bull, comprised immaculate cinematography and innovative filmmaking techniques. Per reports, Martin Scorsese shot all the boxing scenes first. Then he shot the non-boxing scenes. While several boxing-based movies were being shot during that period, Scorsese used this innovative technique to develop the quality of his storytelling.

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De Niro’s depiction of Jake LaMotta got recognition all over the world. He even wanted to make a play on it. The idea didn’t turn into a reality. For a more comprehensive outcome, screenwriter Mardik Martin also spent time with Jake LaMotta’s ex-wife Vickey to know undiscovered facts about the boxer.

Did Robert De Niro play a real-life character in Raging Bull?

Yes, De Niro depicted former middleweight elite Jake LaMotta’s life in the film. ‘Bronx Bull’ LaMotta was one of the most popular pugilists of his time. His career ran from 1941 to 1954 and the American boxer amassed an 83-19-4 record in his pro-ride. He held the NYSAC and NBA middleweight title during his prime reign. While all of it was being shown, LaMotta had a massive role in crafting the movie to perfection.

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The retired boxer assisted Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro to prepare the character. He was also present on the set for all the boxing scenes, but he wasn’t present while the dramatic scenes were being shot. As reported, Scorsese didn’t want the boxer to remain during the non-boxing shoots.

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Later De Niro clarified it and said, “because you don’t want the guy to come over and say, ‘That’s not the way I did it.’ … You feel like you’re doing it for the approval of someone else.”

All these factors made Raging Bull a special film for its makers. The outcome grabbed sheer appraisal. Robert De Niro won an Oscar for his acting in 1981. Besides, the movie bagged several awards like the Golden Globes, Bafta, the Boston Society of Film Critics award, and many such more accolades. It’s still one of the finest movies ever made on the sport of boxing and is a blueprint to several young movie makers.

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Raj Sarkar

3038 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. Combining his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports, he has earned a combined 3000 plus bylines over the last two years.

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