Apologies if this is already old news for most of you ; I was in transit for most of Saturday. Jersey City based, Montreal-born Arturo Gatti was found dead earlier today in an Ipojuca, Brazil apartment. Though his career mark of 40 wins and 9 losses doesn’t quite suggest transcendence, Gatti was unquestionably one of the most exciting brawlers of any era. On 4 occasions, Gatti was a participant in Ring’s “Fight Of The Year”, one of those instances being the first of his three epic battles with Mickey Ward in 2002 (above). The Sweet Science‘s Michael Woods remembers the man who was “allergic to the words, ‘I quit’”.
His type of resilience was and is exceedingly rare, and fight fans were drawn to the battler because they could identify with, and aspire to, his character. Life getting you down? No job, no money, no prospects for either? What would Gatti do? He’d keep on swinging to the bitter end, would the former super featherweight and junior welterweight champion, and would go out on his shield, for sure. The man wasn’t ever looking for a soft spot to fall on the canvas, in his sixteen-year pro career. He didn’t have a hint of the dog in him. He’d only mutter ‘No Mas’ during training, when he needed to cut that last five pounds. “I love to bleed, love it,” he once said. “People at ringside bring umbrellas to my bouts so they won’t get splashed.” And they left the better for it, beyond perhaps having to toss out a light-colored top if they were in the front row, and got splashed. They left knowing that they saw a trait exemplified which would serve them well, if incorporated into their own life: they saw fortitude in excess, a magnificent display worth far more than they’d ponied up at the box office.