The Ongoing Mystery of Arturo Gatti's Death

The ruling by the Brazilian police that Arturo Gatti committed suicide on July 11 remains a crushing insult to his friends and family. After all, this was a man who built a legendary boxing career on the fact that he never, ever quit, no matter how dire the situation. ↵

↵Now the world has been told that he quit on his life. ↵Gatti’s body is in a mausoleum in Montreal, and the full details of a second autopsy performed in that city have not yet been released. One wonders, however, if that autopsy can hope to satisfy his loved ones on the exact nature of how he died. For now, it seems likely that Gatti’s death will go down in the annals alongside that of the heiress Sunny von Bulow – a sordid mystery that is never solved but one in which many suspect a spouse of foul play. ↵

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↵As far as the events on the evening in question go, what was known from the outset is pretty much what is known now. Gatti’s wife, the 23-year-old former stripper Amanda Rodrigues, discovered the fighter’s body inside a condo they were renting in the Brazilian seaside resort town of Porto de Galinhas early on the morning of July 11th. It was estimated that he had died up to 10 hours prior to being found by Rodrigues. ↵

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↵The cause of his death appeared to be strangulation by a purse strap. There was also a wound on the back of his head that looked to have been caused by a kitchen knife. It was deemed that no one but Rodrigues could have come in or out of the apartment over the course of the night in question. Hanging was also ruled out of the question, due to the fact that the purse strap could not have held the fighter’s weight in suspension. ↵

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↵The pair had been seen drunkenly fighting the night before in the street, and Gatti was said to have knocked Rodrigues down and absconded in a taxi with their son. According to Rodrigues, she made her way back to the apartment and went immediately upstairs to the bedrooms. Gatti’s body was downstairs. She said only that she presumed he was sleeping, and other than that, she offered no explanation as to how she had spent almost ten hours in the apartment with his corpse before summoning the police. ↵

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↵Given the dubious nature of the circumstances, Rodrigues immediately was taken into custody and soon accused of murdering her husband. After two weeks of investigation, however, she was released and Gatti’s death was ruled a suicide. The only detail offered to support this theory was that the Brazilian autopsy had found that Gatti died by hanging. It was because of this finding that Rodrigues was ruled out, because she was much too small to have lifted and suspended Gatti’s body on her own. The fact that the purse strap was the presumed method of strangulation was not addressed, nor the fact that this strap was initially not thought to have been strong enough to support the fighter’s mass in hanging. ↵

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↵The suicide ruling was met with immediate outrage from Gatti’s intimate circle, outrage that continues to this day. How could he have hung himself with a purse strap, they ask? And what about the wound on the back of his head? A subsequently discovered detail has prompted even more suspicion and made the whole situation eerily macabre and von Bulow-esque: Three weeks before his death, Gatti changed his will to make Rodrigues his sole benefactor, and thus, she will inherit his entire estate. ↵

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↵Gatti’s friends and family are playing a waiting game right now, hoping that the second autopsy, performed in Montreal, will shed more light on exactly how he died. So far the only word on the findings has come from Dr. Michael Baden, a famous pathologist (and host of the HBO show Autopsy) hired by Gatti’s family to investigate his death. Baden declared that the second autopsy had revealed some “surprises,” as he called them. The first was that only a partial autopsy had been performed in Brazil. The second was that injuries were found on Gatti’s body that were not mentioned in the Brazilian report. The Canadian authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology tests and plan to release a full report on their findings in the coming weeks. ↵

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↵It seems doubtful, however, barring the existence of some newly discovered poison in his bloodstream, that a conclusive answer will be forthcoming on this mystery. They may offer a conflicting theory – they may conclude that Gatti was murdered, or merely conclude that suicide was impossible. But that will be only the beginning of another slew of questions, ones that seem ever less likely to be answered with each passing day. ↵

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↵A photo swept the internet last week of Amanda Rodrigues leaving prison in sunglasses with a big smile on her face, and it couldn’t help but fuel the doubts that many harbor about her role in Gatti’s death. It seems now that no one in the public will ever know for sure what that role was, if in fact she played any role at all. Over the course of the rest of her life, that either will be a blessing or a curse, depending on the truth that only she knows. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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