Jake LaMotta was Sugar Ray Robinson's bloody Valentine 65 years ago in a savage world middleweight title fight.
"I fought Sugar Ray so often I almost got diabetes," Jake LaMotta has often joked and the most painful of those six fights was at Chicago Stadium on St. Valentine's Day in 1951. It is one of the most famous fights in boxing history and LaMotta is still alive today to tell the tale.
The pair's most famous fight ended when Robinson stopped LaMotta in a punishing 13th round to win the undisputed world middleweight title. LaMotta, now 94, has retold his version of events over and over, but the punchlines have never gone flat.
"If the referee had held up another 30 more seconds, Sugar Ray would have collapsed from hitting me," said LaMotta.
They fought six times over nine years and it pitched contrasting styles against each other: LaMotta, known as the Bronx Bull, was a rugged brawler while Robinson was a slick boxing genius based in Harlem.
In their second fight in 1943, Robinson lost on points for his first defeat following 40 professional wins. Robinson got revenge just 21 days later and in 1946 was crowned world welterweight champion.
But it was at middleweight that they met for the sixth and final time. LaMotta's world middleweight title, which he won from Frenchman Marcel Cerdan in June 1949, was on the line and he was still the only man to have beaten Robinson.
When they met to sign contracts for the fight, Robinson tried to psyche out his rival by drinking a glass of blood drained from a beef steak.
It did not spook LaMotta, who was his aggressive self on fight night, but he did struggle to make the weight for his third defence -- he was six pounds over the limit the day before.
Knowing this, Robinson's strategy was to make the champion work in the early rounds and then take advantage as he tired. Robinson, 29, played the part of the matador to LaMotta's Bronx Bull, but after eight rounds two of the judges had LaMotta ahead.
LaMotta, 28, then faded as Robinson's stinging, accurate blows began to back him up. Robinson assumed control with his classical boxing skills and threw a dazzling array of punches from all angles in the 11th round.
It was not all Robinson in the 11th and earlier in the round LaMotta troubled the challenger with a barrage of blows on the ropes. However, by the end of the 11th Robinson was well in command of the fight.
LaMotta continued to take a beating in the 12th and finished the savage round wincing in agony from unforgiving blows to his ribs. With LaMotta offering nothing in reply, Robinson mercilessly unloaded a furious assault in the 13th.
LaMotta was a hard man in the ring with astonishing powers of absorbing punishment and told Robinson in between being hit: "You can't put me down." And LaMotta was still on his feet when the referee stopped the fight in the 13th round following a thudding right and series of uppercuts that jolted his head in all directions.
Robinson landed at will in the 13th and it was a massacre that was sickening at the end. "He's the toughest guy I ever fought, I never knew anyone who was more aggressive and rough as he," Robinson said years later.
The fight was named The St. Valentine's Day Massacre after the 1929 shootout involving gangster Al Capone because of the bloody beating LaMotta took in the latter rounds of the fight. It was the last time they met in the ring and while more big fights lay ahead for Robinson, this was the last big bout for LaMotta who retired three years later.
LaMotta won 83 of 106 paid bouts, was world middleweight champion between 1949 and 1951 and made two defences. Robinson finally retired in 1965 after five reigns as world middleweight champion and one as welterweight champion (1946-1950), finishing his career on 173 wins, 19 losses and six draws with 108 knockouts.
Robinson won their six-fight series 5-1, but LaMotta has out-lived his old rival by more than two decades. Robinson, who died in 1989, is remembered as being the best pound-for-pound boxer in history and while LaMotta's own career did not reach the same giddying heights as His Sugarness, he has had a remarkable life, part of which was portrayed in the 1980 film Raging Bull starring Robert De Niro and in 2012 -- aged 90 -- he married for the seventh time to Denise Baker, who was almost 30 years younger than him.
Nick Parkinson is ESPN UK's boxing correspondent and the author of 'Boxing On This Day'.