Arturo Gatti

2 minute read
Jim Lampley

He wasn’t the kind of boxer whose name resonated among the general public, like Oscar de la Hoya or Mike Tyson. But Arturo Gatti, the Canadian boxer who died July 11 at age 37 after being strangled in a Brazilian hotel room–by his wife, according to police–was an icon among sophisticated fans. And he was an icon for a reason that exists only in boxing, which is that it didn’t matter if he won or lost.

At the height of his career, Gatti lost three consecutive fights but none of his importance. His paychecks actually went up. Every fight was like a life-or-death crucible, and somehow he would survive to box again. Every fighter has a bout or two that mark the epitome of what he can do. Gatti had about 10 of them.

Tormented as a child, he discarded the technical style he was taught as a teenager to fight in a way that guaranteed the audience’s love. With his prominent eyebrows, low forehead and muscular body, he looked like something out of a ’30s gangster movie. Larry Merchant once said he appeared as if “he oughta be fighting with a fedora on.”

Gatti was most famous for his three legendary bouts with Micky Ward. The two were bred to fight each other; they couldn’t have a bad round. And through the combat, they forged a bond. When Gatti fought his last bout in 2007, Ward was the trainer in his corner.

Lampley is a veteran sportscaster for HBO

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