The Italian navy says famed free diver Enzo Maiorca has died. He was 85.

Giancarlo Garozzo, the mayor of Syracuse in Sicily, said Maiorca died there Sunday. No cause of death was cited.

Maiorca's friendly rivalry with diver Jacques Mayol inspired much of a 1988 film, "Big Blue," directed by Luc Besson. The two divers competed against each other starting in 1966, taking turns as the record holder for free diving.

When they reached 249 feet (about 73 meters) in 1970, the International Federation ruled the depths too dangerous and refused to accept further records.

After stopping competitive diving, a navy statement says Maiorca dedicated himself to protecting the marine environment. Maiorca has said he abandoned spear fishing after he felt the beating heart of a grouper he speared.