It’s my birthday today – 10th July – so I thought I’d also wish a very Happy Birthday to all the many other amigos born on this particular day wherever they may be (…fellow Cancerians one and all!) I also thought I’d feature two of ‘em in this blog post – so here goes:
Jake LaMotta is 90 years old today! Happy Birthday Jake. Jake is probably better known to most folk as the real life Raging Bull of the classic Robert De Niro/Martin Scorsese movie, Raging Bull (the title of which was taken from Jake’s 1970 autobiography – which is still available from Amazon btw).
LaMotta is, quite literally, a survivor – overcoming a truly impoverished and harsh childhood, personal tragedy and a criminal background that was, in reality, far worse than that portrayed in the movie (as his autobiography candidly admits). There’s a lot of stuff Jake did that’s indefensible (read the book) – but I believe his remorse is genuine.
However, Jake LaMotta – aka Raging Bull / Bronx Bull – is one of the true legends of boxing. He was the first fighter to beat the equally legendary Sugar Ray Robinson and fought some of the most brutal bouts ever seen at middleweight. He could absorb punches like no-one else and would relentlessly come forward and forward and forward at an opponent until they were quite literally battered into submission! Puts me in mind of an earlier version of Roberto ‘Hands Of Stone’ Duran. (Check out some youtube clips of Jake in action – and the Raging Bull movie too…it is a truly classic film; even if you don’t like boxing!)
As a 10th July-er, I like to think that if I’d been a boxer…I’d have been a Raging Bull!
Another 10th July-er is Virginia Wade. Happy Birthday Virginia. (I won’t give her age as she might not want me to!). Virginia – Ginny as she is known here in Blighty – is, of course, the last Brit ever to win Wimbledon.
Ginny was born in Bournemouth but learned her tennis in South Africa where her father was the Archdeacon of Durban. Ginny moved back to England at the age of 15. She won three singles Grand Slams and four doubles Grand Slams. Her most famous victory was, of course, Wimbledon in 1977 – the centenary year of the Wimbledon Championships and the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It was a popular victory – which I actually watched live (…on the TV, that is!). Ginny beat the Dutch player, Betty Stöve, in three sets: 4-6 6-3 6-1. And here we are still waiting for a Brit to win Wimbledon again (…Jamie Murray’s mixed doubles win nothwithstanding!) BTW Ginny’s 1977 win features as a significant backdrop in my forthcoming novel, LITTLE BASTARD.
Those who know me know I play loads and loads (and loads) of tennis (…and then just a wee bit more!). As a July 10th-er, I like to think that if I’d been a tennis pro…I’d have won Wimbledon by now!
Happy July 10th to my fellow July 10th-ers everywhere!