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Monday, September 26, 2011

Arturo Gatti: Suicide or Murder?

     On July 11, 2009, police in Ipojuca, Brazil discovered the body of 37-year-old Arturo Gatti lying in his underwear on the bloodstained floor of the villa where he was vacationing with his wife Amanda Rodrigues. The blood originated from a blunt-object wound to the back of his head. Gatti's sudden, violent death grabbed headlines due to his prominence in the world of professional boxing. Born in Italy, raised in Canada and relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey, Gatti, with a lightweight/welterweight record of 40 wins and 9 defeats, is best known for this three bouts with Mickey Ward. Ring Magazine named the rubber match between Gatti and Worcester, Massachusetts' welterweight Mickey Ward, "Fight of the Year."

     The Brazilian authorites quickly charged Gatti's wife with first degree murder. That she had waited ten hours before reporting his death, the fact the strap of her purse was stained in his blood, and other factors led to her arrest. However, on July 30, after ruling his death a suicide--he had supposedly hanged himself from a wooden staircase with the stap of the purse--the authorities released Rodrigues from custody.

     Twenty-four days before his death, while living back in Montreal, Gatti had changed his will, leaving his entire estate to his wife. Following the release of his widow from Brazilian custody, the Canadian government promised a thorough investigation of the death. Instead, a team of private investigators took up the case.

     In August, at a news conference in New Jersey, the private investigators announced that Arturo had been murdered. Among other evidence that didn't support the suicide finding, the purse strap was incapable of holding his body weight from the staircase. Dr. Cyril Wecht, the prominent forensic pathologist from Pittsburgh, called the Brazilian autopsy "horribly incomplete" to the point of being "deliberately bungled" in an attempt to support suicide as the manner of death.  The press conference coincided with a civil trial underway in Montreal where Gatti's mother and brother were contesting Rodrigues' claim to his $6 million estate.

     Developments in the Gatti investigation will be reported here as they unfold.

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