’Raging Bull’ boxer Jake LaMotta dead at 95

This file photo shows boxer Jake LaMotta and actor Robert De Niro attending a special screening of “Raging Bull” to celebrate its 25th anniversary and DVD release in New York, on January 27, 2005. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 21 September 2017
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’Raging Bull’ boxer Jake LaMotta dead at 95

NEW YORK: Jake LaMotta, the legendary former world middleweight boxing champion whose wild life and times inspired the Oscar-winning movie “Raging Bull,” has died at age 95, his family announced Wednesday.
LaMotta, an iconic figure from boxing’s 1950s golden age best known for a brutal six-fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, passed away on Tuesday, the boxer’s daughter Christi LaMotta said on Facebook.
LaMotta’s seventh wife, Denise Baker, told the TMZ.com website that the fighter died in a nursing home following complications from pneumonia.
“I just want people to know, he was a great, sweet, sensitive, strong, compelling man with a great sense of humor, with eyes that danced,” Baker was quoted by TMZ as saying.
Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar playing La Motta in the 1980 classic “Raging Bull,” led the tributes, saying in a statement: “Rest in peace, champ.”
The De Niro-founded TriBeca Film Festival later posted a picture of the actor alongside LaMotta and the film’s director Martin Scorsese.
LaMotta’s long life belied a lengthy career in the ring which was notable for some of the most bruising battles the sport has ever seen.
In a career spanning 1941 to 1954, LaMotta racked up a record of 83 victories, 30 of them knockouts, against 19 defeats, according to the boxing statistics website BoxRec.
On June 16, 1949 he scored a knockout win over French boxer Marcel Cerdan to capture the middleweight title. After two successful defenses, he lost the belt in 1952 in his sixth bout against Sugar Ray Robinson.
The final fight with Robinson took place on February 14, 1951, and was dubbed the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.”
LaMotta, his eyes badly swollen and unable to see clearly, refused to go down and endured a savage beating before the contest was stopped in the 13th round with LaMotta clinging onto the ropes.
“If the referee had held up another 30 more seconds, Sugar Ray would have collapsed from hitting me,” LaMotta later joked.
Robinson would describe LaMotta as his most durable opponent in the ring.
“He’s the toughest guy I ever fought, I never knew anyone who was more aggressive and rough as he,” Robinson said years later.
LaMotta retired in 1954 after a split decision defeat to Billy Kilgore in Miami.
Decades later, his remarkable and often violent life story was brought to a wider audience with Martin Scorsese’s spellbinding “Raging Bull.”
The film charted LaMotta’s rise, which included a controversial fight against Billy Fox which he threw under orders from the Mafia, his abusive second marriage, as well as his dramatic post-boxing fall.
“When I saw the film, I was upset,” LaMotta said later.
“I kind of look bad in it. Then I realized it was true. That’s the way it was. I was a no-good bastard. I realize it now. It’s not the way I am now, but the way I was then.”
In retirement, LaMotta entered the hospitality industry, managing restaurants and bars.
However in 1958 he was arrested and charged with introducing men to an underage girl after a teenager entered his Miami nightclub. He was convicted of pimping and spent six months on a chain gang in Dade County, Florida.
Later, LaMotta would find fame on the standup comedy circuit, breaking down his life into a series of memorable one-liners that revealed a flair for comic timing.
“We’re going to talk about the art of self-defense tonight — in order to defend yourself you need two things, a good lawyer and a good alibi,” ran one of his gags.
Another joke referenced his rivalry with Robinson. “I fought Sugar Ray so many times, it’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes,” he said.
Daughter Christi LaMotta on Tuesday described her father as a “great athlete, he lost his title to one of the best Middleweight Boxers in history, Sugar Ray Robinson.”
She revealed that his decision to throw the fight against Fox had left a lasting scar.
“When he took a dive during the Billy Fox fight, which he didn’t want to do, it literally broke him & was never the same afterwards,” she added.


37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

Updated 20 September 2018
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37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

  • A UN workshop in Beirut has been getting to grips with a critical issue for the Arab region
  • Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon

BEIRUT: Arab women and their protection took center stage at a regional workshop held by the UN in Beirut this week.

Held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the United Nations House in the Lebanese capital, the workshop to support women in the Arab region was organized by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Arab League. 

The aim was to address violence against women and highlight the role of international and regional bodies specializing in women’s issues, as well as their impact on the development of policies, strategies, national laws and standard services to address the issue.

“Violence against women is one of our key pillars, and we chose the topic based on the request from our Arab member states,” said Mehrinaz El-Awady, director at the ESCWA Center for Women. “Most of our work is related to eliminating violence. We do studies and a lot of capacity-building on certain topics.”

The center conducted a number of studies on the topic this year, adding to its seven years of cumulative work on the issue. The studies are complemented by workshops to fill the knowledge gap. 

“There are a lot of initiatives done by national women’s machineries, which are the government offices, departments, commissions or ministries that provide leadership and support to government efforts to achieve greater equality between women and men, but they are not all aligned with international institutions, policy and gender equality in general,” El-Awady said. “There are specific requirements for legislation on violence against women, and we have six Arab countries that have done this legislation, yet we need more alignment on these legislations, to have a broader definition on violence against women.” 

She spoke of the potential in Arab countries to eliminate violence, which the UN wishes to build on. “We’re introducing international instruments on violence against women and key pillars that should be legislation on the topic,” El-Awady said. 

“It should cover prevention, protection, prosecution and rehabilitation, and we’re picking some of the examples of countries that have done legislation, allowing them to present the newly developed laws so other countries that haven’t had a law would be encouraged to follow the same path.”

Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon. In 2013, Saudi Arabia passed legislation to protect women, children and domestic workers against domestic abuse. It was followed earlier this year by an anti-harassment law. 

Other countries are said to deal with violence against women under the penal code, which ESCWA is advocating against. “When you have violence against women in a penal code, it loses the privacy,” she added. “It’s not violence from an intimate partner.”

According to UN Women, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once, mostly by an intimate partner. In some countries, that figure is as high as 70 per cent. Globally, almost four in every 10 female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners.

Violence against women has risen in the past few years in the region, which, according to the World Bank, has the lowest number of laws protecting women from domestic violence in the world. UN Women estimates 37 per cent of Arab women have experienced violence, with indicators that the percentage might be higher. 

“The region has had a prevalence of violence against women, and it’s one of the things we’re trying to support countries (in),” El-Awady said. 

“We hope Arab member states are more sensitive to the requirement of legislation on violence against women and start the consideration of having a protection order with the legislation to complement it. There’s a momentum and Arab countries are now more alert — it’s a phenomenon that requires attention from them.” 

Women and girls make up 70 per cent of all known human-trafficking victims. Adult women constitute 50 percent of the total number of trafficked people, while two in three child victims of human trafficking are young girls. 

Rapists are often shown leniency or even acquitted in the Arab region if they marry their victims. In Morocco, Article 475 of the penal code, which allowed rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims, was repealed in 2014 following the suicide of a rape victim who was forced to marry her rapist. Today, 700 million women have been married under the age of 18, and 14 percent of Arab girls marry under the age of 18.

“Violence against women has multiple consequences, at the individual level, within the family, community and wider society,” said Manal Benkirane, regional program specialist at UN Women’s Regional Office for Arab States. “It can lead to fatal outcomes and have a significant burden on the economy. Despite the ongoing efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls in the region, its prevalence and social acceptance remain high.”

She stressed the importance of having enabling legislative frameworks to change the social norms and acceptance of violence, and to ensure women’s access to services that meet their needs. “Otherwise, women in the region end up being violated twice, first when they are subjected to assault, and second when they are denied their right to care and support,” she said. “This workshop offers the space for participating countries to share their experiences, achievements but also challenges they faced in addressing violence in the region.”

More than six in every 10 women survivors of violence refrain from asking for support or protection. The remaining ones who speak up turn to family and friends.

Globally, the total direct and indirect costs of violence against women for countries are estimated to be as high as 1 to 2 percent of their gross national product, which amounts to millions of dollars worldwide. 

“Violence against women (has) become a critical issue in the Arab region,” said Shaza Abdellateef, head of women in the women, family and childhood department at the Arab League’s social affairs sector. 

“This is especially pronounced under the recent circumstances that some Arab countries suffer from, with the spread of armed conflicts, refugees and the increase of violence against women, including domestic violence. It is one of the most important issues in the Arab region today.”