feature Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Arturo Gatti's dreams of entering the Hall of Fame comes true

A tribute to the warrior as his plaque is unveiled in Canastota

I guarantee you he would never quit on life

ARTURO GATTI'S rollercoaster ride ended with his untimely and mysterious death in July, 2009.

The sensational journey he took fight fans on culminated with the final bout of his highlight-reel career when defeated by Alfonso Gomez in 2007.

Those were two unhappy endings.

And there were tears as another chapter closed on Gatti's storied life on Sunday, with his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Rather than the late warrior being able to witness his plaque elevated onto the hallowed walls in Canastota, those close to the fallen idol were faced with the flattering job of attending in his presence but the less endearing task of trying to immortalise the most-exciting fighter of his generation with words.

Micky Ward, Gatti's great rival, career-long manager Pat Lynch and promoter Kathy Duva all gave it a shot.

Yes, they honoured him.

But how could they ever prevent a feeling of injustice that the man who had vividly displayed blood and guts for the fans, for them and for us – who gave everything in the ring each time he stepped between the strands – was not there for the ultimate reward in boxing.

Twice there were standing ovations for Gatti, warmly filling the blue skies about that were dented with just occasional soft clouds.

There were lumps in the throats of just about everyone in upstate New York's often quiet village as Ward fondly recalled their legendary fights.

"We had three good fights, two Fights of the Year with 30 rounds of non-stop action. He was a great person and a great fighter. I miss him every day."

"It's a tough moment for all of us," said Lynch, who has struggled terribly to cope with the loss of his friend and still who believes he did not commit suicide.

"Arturo would never give up. He would never quit in the ring and I can guarantee you he would never quit on life."

Kathy Duva was almost overcome with emotion at the end of her monologue, in which she quoted Theodore Roosevelt's Citizenship in A Republic speech.

Roosevelt spoke of a society that would see people make an effort, whether they succeeded or not, with those who attempted being seen as standard bearers rather than those who stood by and watched.

He characterised the individuals as those: "Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Kathy said: "Arturo knew he had critics who didn't think he belonged here [in the Hall of Fame]. He readily understood competing arguments about why he should or should not be but he is up in heaven today and I hope he knows one of his dreams has come true because Arturo Gatti dared greatly and for that we will never, ever forget him."

Arturo's seven-year-old daughter, Sofia, stole her father's show when Pat lifted her to the microphone for her to say, "Thank-you, from my daddy."

Selfishly, having been to around 10 International Boxing Hall of Fame weekends and having always enjoyed a strong working relationship with Gatti, Ward and Lynch, I wish I had been there to see it.

Most importantly, however, I wish Arturo "Thunder" Gatti had been there, not just to accept the accolades but to share it with his beautiful little girl.

Gatti dared greatly and we will never forget him
Author : Tris Dixon


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