Saturday, July 11, 2009

Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, RIP

Commenter Stan B broke the news to me that Arturo "Thunder" Gatti had passed away. From the AP via the Los Angeles Times website ("Arturo Gatti, former boxing champion, found dead in hotel"):

Associated Press
4:10 PM PDT, July 11, 2009

SAO PAULO -- Former boxing champion Arturo Gatti, whose epic trilogy with Micky Ward branded him one of the most exciting fighters of his generation, was found dead in a hotel room in the posh seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas early Saturday.

Police investigator Edilson Alves told the Associated Press that the body of the former junior welterweight champ was discovered in his room at the tourist resort, where Gatti had arrived on Friday with his Brazilian wife Amanda and 1-year-old son.

Alves said police were investigating and it was unclear how the 37-year-old Canadian died.

"It is still too early to say anything concrete, although it is all very strange," Alves said. He declined to provide any additional details.

A spokeswoman for the state public safety department said Gatti's wife and son were unhurt. The woman declined to give a name in keeping with department policy.

"There were no bullet or stab wounds on his body, but police did find blood stains on the floor," she said.

Brazilian boxer and four-time world champion Acelino "Popo" Freitas told the G1 website of Brazil's largest TV network Globo that he was a close friend of Gatti and his wife, and that he "knew they were having some sort of problem and were about to separate."

[...]

"I never saw a crowd show so much love for someone like the way that the crowds flocked to Arturo's fights in Atlantic City," said referee Randy Neumann, who officiated Gatti's last fight against Alfonso Gomez two years ago. "I mean, they were so into him and the crowds were electric. He just fought his heart out every fight."


A quick aside: I've had the pleasure of meeting Randy Neumann on a few occasions. He was a heavyweight contender in the 1970s, and now, in addition to being a professional referee, runs his own financial planning practice in Paramus, NJ. According to a recent article in our local paper, the Record, Neumann's son, a former college football prospect, is now starting his own pro career, managed by his father. I had planned on blogging on that, but hadn't gotten around to it. The AP article quotes Neumann again,

Gatti attempted a comeback in July 2007, getting knocked out in seven rounds by Gomez. Afterward, with his legion of fans cheering for him in the arena, Gatti announced his retirement in the dressing room at Boardwalk Hall.

Neumann said it was tough for him to end that fight, simply because of Gatti's incredible ability to come back in fights.

"I couldn't stop that fight, simply because he was Arturo Gatti," Neumann said. "He was much more dignified to go out that way. He had to be counted out. When he fought, you never knew if he could come back. He looked beaten and still came back."


Neumann is a great referee. Sometimes you've got to let a fighter get counted out, and sometimes you have stop it before it gets to that, and it takes a great referee to make that call1.

I was never a fan of Gatti -- I was pulling for the other guy in most of his fights -- but I always respected his courage. You had to -- how could you not respect the courage of a man who would keep fighting with a broken hand? May he rest in peace.

Below is a video of the 9th round of the first of three fights between Gatti and "Irish" Mickey Ward. This was probably the best round in the best fight of the trilogy, and this fight was one of the best I've ever seen. Ward, incidentally, if memory serves, was still driving a steam roller for a living in Massachusetts at the time of this fight. He got some nice paydays in the next two fights though, I think.

Mickey Ward vs Arturo Gatti I Round 9


1I once complimented Neumann on stopping the Klitschko v. Mercer fight when he did. Mercer, the old U.S. Army champion, was "like a Sherman tank" according to Neumann. Letting him eat more of Klitschko's straight rights would have been pointless at that stage of the fight.

7 comments:

DaveinHackensack said...

Update: according to the AP, the police in Brazil suspect Gatti's wife killed him and have taken her into custody:

SAO PAULO (AP)—Brazilian authorities detained the wife of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti and formally accused her Sunday of killing him at a posh seaside tourist resort in Brazil.

Police said 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues was taken into custody after contradictions in her interrogation and presented a formal accusation against her. Prosecutors will later decide whether she will be charged.

Rodrigues, who denies any involvement in her husband’s death, was the first to find the slain boxer’s body early Saturday inside the vacation apartment they were renting at the Porto de Galinhas resort in northeastern Brazil, police said.

The former junior welterweight champion was apparently strangled with the strap of a purse, which was found at the scene with blood stains, said Milena Saraiva, a spokeswoman for the Pernambuco state civil police. She told The Associated Press that the Canadian also sustained a head injury.

Police said Rodrigues, a Brazilian, could not explain how she spent nearly 10 hours inside the residence without noticing that Gatti was already dead.

Stan B said...

Thanks for posting this Dave. Didn't know you took requests ;-)

More seriously, the YouTube of the round you posted is truly terrific. Here's my personal favorite:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imZaiGJgbsw

Watched this fight live on a bored Saturday evening, flipping through channels while I waited for my GF to get off work. It's what turned me back into a boxing fan (lapsed since the Tyson era). Shame these great fights are so few and far between, and that the participants end up having such untimely demises... but that's entertainment, I guess :-/

DaveinHackensack said...

You're welcome, Stan. I saw Castillo-Corrales live too. Phenomenal fight, I'd rank it up there with Ward-Gatti I. I had an issue with the stoppage of Castillo in round 10. It's true, he was getting pummeled at that point but -- unless the rules are different depending on the state -- refs can rule a knockdown if they think a fighter would have gone down had the ropes not held him up. I've seen that happen a few times. Had the ref done that, Castillo would have gotten a 10-count, from which he might have recovered to last out the round. Castillo never complained about it though, so I can't be more Catholic than the pope here. I was glad to see Castillo take out Corrales in the rematch though.

That was pretty much it for both of those fighters though. Corrales died young, as you alluded to (in motorcycle crash), and Castillo apparently left it all in the ring in those two fights with Corrales. The next time I saw him fight was when he got stopped by the over-rated, under-powered kid from Manchester. Castillo looked like he mailed it in in that fight.

As for fights like Castillo-Corrales or Ward-Gatti being rare, as Spinoza said, "all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare".

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H. Clinton said...

A woman scorned was stronger than all his other opponents.

Beware the force of an angry female.

DaveinHackensack said...

More on this from our local paper, the Record today:

"According to several sources, Rodrigues repeatedly asked Gatti to wire her $400,000 before he left New Jersey for Brazil, but those sources couldn’t confirm Sunday whether the transfer had been completed.

Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs) earned nearly $30 million in purses during a 16-year pro career

[...]

Gatti, a longtime New Jersey resident, met Rodrigues in 2006 at The Squeeze Lounge in Weehawken, where Rodrigues worked as a go-go dancer. They married in August 2007 in Las Vegas and had their son the following year.

Rodrigues signed a prenuptial agreement, but recently had tried to get Gatti to change the terms of his will. They lived together in Marlboro and later Montreal because Rodrigues was not a United States citizen.

Montreal police arrested Gatti on April 7 for failing to make a court appearance on an assault charge filed by Rodrigues.

“I’ve personally driven him to the emergency room to get stitches from domestic incidents either with his wife or one of his former girlfriends,” said Jersey City’s Mike Skowronski, Gatti’s close friend and assistant trainer for nearly 20 years.

“She just didn’t seem like she was with Arturo for the right reasons, from the conversations I did have with her. Him being 37 and her being 23, they didn’t have a whole lot in common.”

DaveinHackensack said...

Another thought on this: I wonder what's going to happen with Gatti's son. A custody case between another NJ resident and the family of his late Brazilian wife has become something of an international incident. In that custody case, the Brazilian wife took their child on vacation to Brazil and never returned. She got remarried in Brazil, and died giving birth to her new mate's child. The American father has been fighting it out in Brazilian courts for years trying to get his son back.