Arturo Gatti At 50

Had he lived as he so richly and undeniably had every right to, Arturo Gatti would today be celebrating his 50th birthday. It’s still tough, and painful, to accept how Gatti was gone at age 37, this in July of 2009, his untimely death as mysterious as it was shocking. Gatti held a special place in the hearts of fight fans before he left us and he is idolised still, he is cherished, he is terribly missed.

Gatti earned the right to bask in glory long into old age, his blood and guts, along with his thunder in the ring taking fans to a place no other fighter had ever taken them, or has ever taken them. Gatti is immortalised, his epic, never to be forgotten ring wars, be they wins or defeats, made darn sure of that. Nicknamed “The Human Highlight Reel,” Gatti gave us around ten scintillating classics that saw him live up to his nickname.

Perhaps best celebrated and admired for his three now legendary battles with Micky Ward, Gatti also took us to the white-hot heat of the furnace, to the highest of the highs, with his brutal and thrilling slugfests with Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas, Ivan Robinson (twice), Angel Manfredy, Tracy Harris Patterson (twice) and others. Gatti was incredible, he gave his all so many times; he bled for us, he dug unimaginably deep for us, Gatti took turns taking and giving some hellacious punches for us.

Some fighters give too much during their career, suffering and paying the hefty bill in their later years. Gatti never got there, and we have no idea what kind of shape Arturo would be in today had he lived. Maybe Gatti, despite the almost insane amounts of punishment he took in so many of his fights, would have been one of the lucky ones, his faculties and overall health in good shape at the age of 50 (and beyond). Maybe not. We will never know.

Gatti is frozen in time, we conjure up images of Gatti’s terrific rounds of action with Ward, with Rodriguez, with Ruelas, with Robinson, when we hear his name or think of him. Gatti didn’t go out a winner, instead staying too long and being beaten in his final two fights, yet the defeats to Carlos Baldomir and Alfonso Gomez don’t really matter, they take nothing from Gatti’s legacy. Gatti is perhaps deserving of being ranked as THE most consistently thrilling ring warrior of all time.

This fact, perhaps more than anything else – be it the world titles, the money, the private memories – would make Gatti, a true fighter for the people and of the people (like Thomas Hearns, the most important thing to Gatti was giving the fans a great show), happy. And Gatti deserved to be happy in retirement. It never ended up that way but Gatti’s legend is bigger than ever and still growing.

It’s a cliché for sure, but there will never be another Arturo Gatti.