Seventy Years since Jake “The Raging Bull” LaMotta’s pro-debut – has anyone boasted a better chin since?
By Jack Dutton:
A look back at the toughest chins in boxing history.
Jake LaMotta. Raised on the streets of the Bronx, New York. Murderer, rapist, thief. A fighter shrouded in controversy decades before the likes of Mike Tyson hit the screen. But his work inside the squared circle was nothing less than awe-inspiring. In a total of 103 fights, the ‘Raging Bull’ tasted the canvas only once, in his last few months of professional fighting, at the hands of Danny Nardico. Even then he was back on his feet within a few seconds. His corner, repulsed but not surprised at the punishment he was taking, refused to let him continue into the 8th round. Not many could have taken the damage the Bronx Bull received from the hard-hitting Sugar Ray Robinson in their epic six-fight rivalry, without ever going down. In more than a hundred bouts against the best of his era, he resisted ever being counted out. A claim not many can stand by. But who else possesses a cement chin worthy of mention? Here are a select few fighters who can boast a resilience similar to that of the ‘Raging Bull’.
No list would be complete without reference to George Chuvalo. The ‘Iron’ heavyweight who refused to be beaten by the count against the division when it was the strongest it has ever been. Facing the infamous trio of Frazier, Foreman and Ali, going the distance with ‘the Greatest’ twice, audiences were awed by his willingness to never surrender, despite the fractured cheekbone he endured against ‘Smokin Joe’. In 93 fights the Canadian was never dropped.
The great 1920s middleweight champ, Harry Greb, often referred to as the “The human windmill” certainly earns a mention. Boasting one of the most impressive records in boxing history, he was stopped only twice in 240 fights and astoundingly managed to last the two years of his career despite being completely blind in his right eye. A truly inspiring champion.
Argentina’s renowned middleweight champion, Carlos Monzon, lost a mere three fights out of 100 (all of them decisions) and is one the few fighters to have never been stopped in his entire boxing career. A remarkable feat from a remarkable champion who withstood punishment from stone handed sluggers such as Rodrigo Valdes and Gratien Tonna and still emerged victorious.
Rocky Marciano, despite revisionist doubt at the average age rating of the opponents he faced, still showed a determined ability to take punishment and keep slugging back, which few have matched. Some of the classiest knockout artists in the sport, Jersey Joe Walcott, Archie Moore and Ezzard Charles all tried yet none succeeded in besting the only undefeated heavyweight in boxing history.
The ability displayed by Marvellous Marvin Hagler, in making some of the biggest hitters the non-heavyweight divisions have ever seen seem weak handed, was a truly remarkable achievement. Fighting in an infamous era, against the likes of Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and John Mugabi, he was floored only once by the rough Juan Domingo, in which some debate was more likely to be a slip than a knockdown. His ability to endure the right hand of the ‘Hit man’ Hearns for three rounds before finishing his rival will be marvelled at by boxing fans for decades to come.
Undoubtedly, I have missed many mentions to many other fighters who possess the valued boxing ability of the ‘cement chin’. Here is simply a short list of some of the best the sport has seen. With the ‘Bronx Bull’, in my mind, possessing a steely, self-destructive, determination to absorb as much punishment as he could that sets him apart from many other fighters. In the words of the man himself:
“Punches never bothered me that much…”