Canadian former boxing champion Gatti found dead in Brazil Staff

7/11/2009 7:00:30 PM

Canada's former world boxing champion Arturo Gatti has been found dead in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil on Saturday.

Police investigator Edislon Alves confirmed that the body of the former IBF super-featherweight champion and WBC light welterweight champion was discovered by his wife Amanda on the floor of a condominium that the pair had rented to celebrate their "second honeymoon" with their 10-month old son.

Alves stated that the police were investigating the death.  Foul play is suspected in the death.

"It is still too early to say anything concrete, although it is all very strange," Alves stated.

Gatti was 37 years old.

Local police investigator Francisco Assis told Brazilian website G1 that Gatti could have been dead for up to eight hours before his body was discovered Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for the public safety department of Pernambuco released the following statement:

"There were no bullet or stab wounds on his body, but police did find blood stains on the floor," she said, adding that his wife and son were unhurt.

No further details were provided as the spokeswoman stated that she was not authorized to comment on the case.

Those in the boxing community are devastated by the news.

"I'm really in a state of shock right now, as are the people that I've contacted and spoken to that are close to Arturo and had known him for as long as I have," TSN boxing analyst Russ Anber said in a phone interview from Montreal.  "I've known Arturo since he was seven years old."

As president of Boxing Quebec and a member of Boxing Canada's board of directors, Anber stated that the impact of Gatti's death is monumental in his home province.

"I think everybody is at a loss for words, especially here in Montreal more than anywhere else in the world.  He was a hero here, his family was all here, he had a community presence, he was at all the fights.  I think everyone here is just shocked."

"His entire boxing career he fought with us, we've known him since he was 17," Kathy Duva of promoter Main Events told The Associated Press. "It's just an unspeakable tragedy. I can't even find words. It's a horror."

Arturo "Thunder" Gatti's style and willingness to exchange punches with his opponents made him one of the most popular fighters of the past 20 years.

Born in Italy, the Gatti family moved to Montreal when Arturo was very young.  Gatti began boxing at the age of eight and was training to prepare to fight for Canada at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Instead he turned pro June 10th 1991, scoring a TKO over Jose Gonzalez.

Gatti captured his first professional title on June 28th 1994 by defeating Pete Taliaferro for the USBA junior lightweight crown.

On June 15th 1995 Gatti earned his first world title in a unanimous decision over Tracy Patterson to capture the IBF Junior lightweight title.  Gatti would defend that title in 1996 against Wilson Rodriguez in a tilt that would earn "1996 Fight of the Year" honours as Gatti protected his title.

Gatti would earn Fight of the Year honours once again in 1997 thanks to his memorable bout with Gabriel Ruelas that saw Gatti persevere for a fifth round TKO.

After relinquishing his title to move up in weight-class, a Gatti scrap was once again was selected as Fight of the Year in a 10-round loss to Ivan Robinson.  Despite the loss, Gatti's reputation had grown so much that he earned a shot at the biggest fight of his career against one of the sport's biggest stars, 'the Golden Boy' Oscar de La Hoya.

Although Gatti lost the bout, he earned the respect of fight fans around the world by going toe-to-toe with one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

In 2002, Gatti found his foil in 'Irish' Mickey Ward, a tough-as-nails scrapper who would bring out the best in Gatti.  The pair staged three of the most memorable fights in recent memory as the two-gladiators appeared to re-enact the climatic scene of a fictional boxing movie where the protagonists exchange haymakers until nothing is left of their opponent.  As the New York Post's boxing writer Lenn Robins stated: "It wasn't a trilogy, it was a thrill-ogy."

"As far as Canada is concerned, he is one of the greatest Canadian boxers ever, I don't think there is any doubt about that," said Anber. "He will always be remembered by this generation as the 'blood and guts warrior'. He was the guy who thrilled everybody, who brought people out of their seats, who proved that you don't even need to be a world champion to excite the fans. I think he did that better than anybody in his time."

The notoriety earned from the Gatti/Ward trilogy turned Gatti's title shot against Gianluca Branco a must-see event.  Gatti sealed the deal with a 10th round KO to capture the WBC Super Lightweight crown.

Gatti dropped his titles to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on June 25th 2005, suffering his worst-ever defeat by throwing in the towel in the sixth round.

Following a loss to Alfonso Gomez in 2007, Gatti announced his retirement from boxing with a record of 40 wins and nine losses with 31 knockouts.