Arturo chosen for Hall of Fame
Arturo Gatti will soon be among the greats in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Gatti, who won world titles in two divisions, heads the class of 2013 to be inducted in June next year. Others to be honoured are Virgil Hill, Wesley Ramsey, Jeff Smith, Myung-Woo Yuh of South Korea and Joe Coburn.
The list was announced on Monday, more than three years after Gatti’s death at the age of 37.
Gatti died in Brazil in July 2009. His body was found at an apartment he rented with his wife and their infant son. Police initially held Gatti's wife as a suspect but eventually released her and said Gatti had hanged himself from a staircase railing using a handbag strap.
"He gave it all in the ring," said Micky Ward, who had three memorable bouts with Gatti. "He gave everything to the sport of boxing. He gave the fans what they wanted."
Gatti was born in Italy and raised in Montreal. He retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9, including 31 knockouts.
Hill, a five-time world champion, won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics. He defended his light-heavyweight title 20 times in two reigns.
Yuh was a two-time light-flyweight champion. Lightweight Ramsey and middleweight Smith were elected in the old-timer (posthumous) category. Coburn, a 19th-century Irish boxer, was included in the pioneer category.
Referee Mills Lane, ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr, manager Arturo Hernandez, cartoonist Ted Carroll and and journalist Colin Hart were also elected.
The inductees were selected by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians. The ceremonies will be held on June 9 at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
The name that stands out is that of Gatti, whose relentless style made him a crowd favourite.
"Arturo was a throwback-type fighter like Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano," Ward said.
"He could brawl if he had to, and he could box as well as anybody."
Ward won the first junior welterweight fight against Gatti, blood streaming down his face as he earned a majority decision in May 2002. Gatti avenged the loss in Atlantic City, knocking Ward down in the third with a punch that shattered one of Ward's eardrums and sent him face-first into a stanchion.
Gatti broke his right hand in the fight and won a unanimous 10-round decision.
Gatti also won their third fight in June 2003. It wasn't a title fight. A crowd of 12 643 – the largest for a non-heavyweight fight in Atlantic City – packed Boardwalk Hall, which is often referred to as "The House of Gatti."
After the fight, the two shared a bottle of water and hugged, then went to the Atlantic City Medical Centre, where they lay side-by-side in the emergency room while being treated.
"The Hall of Fame is fitting for a guy who worked so hard and gave his all to the sport," said Pat Lynch, Gatti's manager. "It was an honour and a privilege to have managed him his entire career."
Hill said: "It's the biggest honour that's ever been bestowed upon me. It's more than winning the five world titles and the Olympic silver medal. It's the biggest thing besides my wife and children that's ever happened to me.”