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Famous Ring Wars: Robinson vs. Lamotta VI – “The St. Valentines Day Massacre” – Part 2

By John F. McKenna (McJack): The twelfth round turned into a full scale slaughter with Robinson throwing bombs at an almost defenseless opponent. He unleashed his full repertoire of heavy artillery. Double and triple left hooks.

By now Lamotta’s face was a grotesques swollen mass. Robinson’s left hand was severely bruised from the punishment he had inflicted on his foe. It was so bad that Robinson’s manager George Gainford implored referee Frank Sikora to stop the fight. Sikora paid no attention. The brutal beating continued into the thirteenth round. For two minutes Referee Sikora nervously glanced at the Illinois Boxing Commission while Robinson blasted away at Lamotta, whose hands were now down by his sides. Still he refused to go down and Sikora refused to stop it. Lamotta was bleeding from inside the mouth and his left eye when he staggered into the ropes. Finally Referee Sikora stepped in and called a stop to the carnage.

Despite suffering a terrible beating Lamotta remained defiant. “I didn’t go down Ray, you didn’t put me down.” Lamotta said to Robinson before leaving the ring. Jake admitted later that this had been the toughest of his six fights with Robinson and that he had run out of gas. It took Lamotta two hours before he could muster the energy to get dressed and leave the stadium. Robinson spent a considerable amount of time soaking his left hand in a bucket of ice. Ring doctor Vince Nardiello assured reporters that it was not broken. “He just hit Lamotta so hard and so often with it that it’s thoroughly bruised.”

Ironically a virtual unknown did finally knock down Lamotta. Jake, no longer able to make the weight at middleweight attempted to move up to light heavyweight. On December 31, 1952 Lamotta was knocked down by an up and coming light heavyweight power puncher named Danny Nardico. Lamotta, now just a shell of the fighter who had fought Robinson on February 14, 1951 was totally outclassed by Nardico. Nardico knocked down Lamotta in the seventh round and Jake was unable to answer the bell for the eighth round.

Years after he retired Lamotta used his fame as a boxer to perform as a stand up comic. One of his claims was that he was never knocked down. Unfortunately Lamotta’s fight with Nardico is saved on film for posterity. One knockdown in 106 fights is not bad.

It is probable that the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” fight had something to do with the loss to Danny Nardico.

When Robert Deniro was preparing for his role as Jake Lamotta in “Raging Bull” he sparred with Lamotta. After a few rounds Lamotta realized that Deniro was not putting everything into his punches. Jake was trying to teach Deniro how to throw punches realistically. Finally Lamotta told Deniro to give it everything he had. Even at his age he told Deniro there was no way he could ever hurt him. Deniro responded in kind.

“Sugar” Ray Robinson would go on fighting until 1965, at least ten years past his prime.

Lamotta could not attend the retirement party that was held at Madison Square Garden for Robinson. He was banned from any official boxing function because he had testified before Congress that he had thrown his fight to Billy Fox in 1947. For throwing the fight to Fox, Lamotta got a shot at Marcel Cerdan’s Middleweight Title and one hundred thousand dollars.

Robinson vs Lamotta VI was perhaps the greatest fight of all time. Two fighters in their prime giving it their very best, holding nothing back.

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