Its late September 1997 and Mark Collings, rookie boxing reporter, blags an interview with his hero for Esquire magazine
I filled Jake LaMotta at his favourite restaurant, La Maganette, on the reces of 50th and 3rd in Manhattan, two weeks after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. It was one of those molten hot late summer New York days, but I had a wool dres and tie-up on. Beforehand Id read a quote from LaMotta that responded, If you are somebody, you dress like somebody, so I had decided to wear my alone clothing. I was boozing ice-cold Coca-Cola, trying to stop myself from sweating, when Jake arrived. Hes only a babe! he said to his son Jake Jr, gesticulating towards me. I was 25, but looked younger than my age.
He was inhaling a cigar and wearing a yellow sport shirt. He was shorter than I had expected 5ft 8in and his hand was small-minded and outstandingly soft. As I shook it I remember making, This is the hand that knocked Sugar Ray Robinson through the ropes.
I loved boxing. I had boxed a little bit when I was a kid and Id written a few minor portions for the Boxing News . I was frantic to get a writing vocation started and had decided to try to blag an interrogation with LaMotta. Boxing News “ve given me” LaMottas home count and, miraculously, Esquire magazine commissioned the clause and agreed to pay the $500 gratuity which Jake had requested for the interview. Experience costs, he said.
Jake had just got back from Paris where he was making a film with Eric Cantona. He said he belief Eric had thoughts his girlfriend, “whos” 30 years younger than Jake. He told me “hes been” deaf in one ear so I had to shout. We talked about his six contends against Sugar Ray Robinson; how “hes lost” 400 lb in load throughout his vocation; Raging Bull , and how boxing had gone downhill.
We decided to leave the restaurant and moved along 3rd Avenue. Jake trod in front. He was incredibly swift for a 75 -year-old and I observed how his upright swagger was precisely as Robert De Niro had outlined it in Raging Bull . Jake Jr told me his father would sometimes booze with Frank Sinatra at PJ Clarkes in the 50 s. As we reached the bar, a construction worker in the street outside recognised Jake. He cut off his drill as we approached and hollered: Hey, its Jake LaMotta! The greatest middleweight that ever lived!
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