Growing up, Gatti hung around the gym where Dave Hilton Sr. was training his three sons and quickly became the de-facto fourth wheel of the family. Just to have survived hanging around the Hiltons is almost a miracle in itself; tremendous fighters and sportsmen, all three brothers were boxing champions, yet all also had trouble living a violence-free life outside the ring, each spending as much time in prison as in the outside world.
Gatti got close enough that his sister even married Dave Hilton Jr., the most talented of the three, but also the most violent; while his brothers Matthew and Alex are usually caught holding up corner stores or fighting in bars or violating parole agreements, ''Davey'' was found guilty of assaulting his wife, and sexually assaulting his own daughters.
Gatti, apparently, was no angel himself in real life; there have been reports of domestic abuse, but never any convictions. But, compared to the Hiltons, he's as clean as you and I.
Professionally, he's also a ''movie of the week'' type of character. From 1992 to 1995, he won most of his fights, displaying some of the unique character traits that would eventually make him a beloved sports figure and, eventually, a legend. And as 1995 would come to a close, he would be crowned Champion for the first time.
1996 saw him defend his title successfully at Madison Square Garden, of all places, in a nationally televised fight that saw him hit the floor and start bleeding early on. Yet he sucked it up and won in 6 rounds in what was a finalist for Fight Of The Year, according to Ring Magazine - the first of three consecutive times one of his fights would make the list, a rare feat. It was also a come-from-behind victory that got people calling him 'Raging Bull', after the late Jake LaMotta.
1997 was more of the same, and it must have gotten boring to Gatti to keep winning despite bleeding his heart out at every fight, because he decided to relinquish his title and change weight categories. Sure, his fights were still crowned 'Fight Of The Year', but now he was on the losing end.
By 1999, he was on the rise again, the apex of which may have been the three matches against 'Irish' Micky Ward. They did split the first couple of matches, but the third one was epic. I'll let Wikipedia describe it for you:
On June 7, 2003, he and Ward had a rubber match. Gatti broke his twice-repaired right hand on an uppercut to the hip in the fourth, and he dropped his arm, wincing in pain. He fought nearly one-handed for several rounds afterward, using his right sparingly. In the sixth, Gatti dominated the round but got caught with an overhand right to the top of the head a second before the bell rang and went down. Gatti then recovered again and was never in trouble after that. The final scorecards read, 96–93 (twice), and 97–92, in favor of Gatti. The third fight between the two was again named "Fight Of The Year" by Ring Magazine.And by 2004, he was Champion again. He never gave up, probably didn't know how to. But his reign wasn't all that long. He lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr., generally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation and was never the same again. He then lost to no-name boxers before calling it quits.
You'd think, at 37, after spending most of his life getting hit by others but hitting back even harder, married to a girl 14 years younger with a young child, he'd be good to go, able to enjoy life. You'd wish it upon him.
But those who live by the sword die by the sword. He was found dead this morning, in Brazil, strangled, apparently by his wife. He was weeks away from attending his sister's wedding. Yep, Hilton's ex has found someone else worth spending the rest of her life with, but her marriage will always be linked with the unnecessary death of Arturo Gatti, and that's the one fight he won't be getting up from.