Jake LaMotta, boxer who inspired ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

Jake LaMotta, an iron-fisted battler who brawled his way to a middleweight title and was later memorialized by Robert De Niro in the film “Raging Bull,” has died. He was 95.

The former middleweight champion died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia, according to his longtime fiancee, Denise Baker.

LaMotta handed Sugar Ray Robinson his first defeat and reigned for nearly two years as middleweight champion during a time boxing was one of America’s biggest sports. He was a fan favorite who fought with fury, though he admitted to once intentionally losing a fight to get in line for a title bout.

LaMotta gained fame with a new generation because of the 1980 film based loosely on his autobiography from a decade earlier. De Niro won an Academy Award playing the troubled boxer – violent both inside and outside the ring – in a Martin Scorsese film that several critics have ranked as among the top 100 movies ever made.

“Rest in Peace, Champ,” De Niro said in a statement.

The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts, in a career that began in 1941 and ended in 1954. But it was the movie that unflinchingly portrayed him as a violent and abusive husband – he was married six times — that is remembered even more.

In 1998, LaMotta, who had four daughters, lost both of his sons. Jake LaMotta Jr., 51, died from cancer in February. Joe LaMotta, 49, was killed in plane crash off Nova Scotia in September.

A funeral in Miami and a memorial service in New York City are being planned, Baker said.

Bernie Casey, pro football player turned actor, dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bernie Casey, a professional football player turned poet, painter and actor known for parts in films such as “Revenge of the Nerds” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” has died. He was 78.

Casey died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, his talent agent Erin Connor said.

Born in West Virginia in 1939 and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Casey excelled in track and field and football and attended Bowling Green State University on an athletic scholarship.

He went on to play wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams before going back to his alma mater to get a master’s degree in fine arts.

For Casey, the arts always came first. He painted and published books of poetry, but the football association that he viewed as a stepping stone followed him.

“It was just a gig,” he told the Washington Post in 1977 about football. “But it limits the way people perceive you. That can be frustrating. People have tremendous combinations of talents. A man can be a deep-sea diver and also make china.”

His art in particular captivated many famous minds, including Maya Angelou.

Casey’s professional acting career began with “Guns of the Magnificent Seven,” a sequel to “The Magnificent Seven,” in 1969.

He appeared in some 35 films, including “Boxcar Bertha,” ”The Man Who Fell to Earth,” ”Brian’s Song” and “Never Say Never Again.”

Casey also starred opposite fellow NFL veteran Jim Brown in “…tick…tick…tick” and “Black Gunn.”

He played Lamda Lamda Lamda head U.N. Jefferson in “Revenge of the Nerds” and John Slade in Keenan Ivory Wayans’ Blaxploitation parody “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” from 1988.

He also had a number of television credits including “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” ”Murder She Wrote” and “L.A. Law.”