I always just sort of had this feeling that Arturo Gatti would die young, but it doesn’t make it any less stunning when it actually happens.
Hearing about his death on Saturday was one of those times where you simply don’t know what to do next. He’s been my favorite fighter since high school, when about 15 years ago, I saw him beat Tracy Harris Patterson for his first title.
Gatti was never the most talented boxer, not the most successful. But he was by far the most entertaining. Even after he got with trainer Buddy McGirt and stepped up his fundamentals, Gatti’s defense always took a back seat to his offense; he’d take three punches to connect with one. But his determination and threshhold for pain made his fights must-see wars, so much so that I went to three of his fights in Atlantic City, including the final two of his near-legendary wars with Micky Ward.
It’s no wonder people loved him. Gatti was the everyman, with the name and look of a young mafia don, the swagger of a bullfighter and the courage of a firefighter. He was known just as much for his propensity to party as his prowess in the ring. Gatti liked fast cars, fast women, fast punches and fast times. He’d go out to party still bleeding after one of his epic ring wars.