“Joe and Arturo’s careers, and lives, would take two entirely different paths. The brother’s careers were, in essence, a study on professional boxing.”
So says the author Joe Botti and chronicled with “Thunder & Lightning” the compelling and behind the scene stories of two brothers, Arturo and Joe of Jersey City, pro fighters and the world champion (Arturo) battling adversity and boxing politics. Botti, author of Joe Jennette: Boxing’s Ironman, born in Jersey City, boxed as an amateur, trained and managed fighters since 1977. He is founder of Union City Boxing Club, trained 34 Golden Gloves champions, and a New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
But the Gatti Brothers were always a focus. Arturo, of course chronicled with a famed trilogy against Micky Ward, once rivals and becoming good friends, three fights that are synonymous in boxing history. Arturo left a legacy but dealt with adversity and was it suicide or murder that took his life is analyzed in the final chapters.
“Some of Arturo’s friends claims that he had been physically abused by his wife (Amanda), some extremely disturbing events occurred just prior to Arturo’s death,” Botto states, referring to a signed prenuptial agreement and Gatti changing his will.”
To this day the theories about Gatti’s death continue. The Canadian and two-time world champion was found dead July 11, 2009 in his hotel room in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galinhas, then on vacation with his wife who was arrested and charged with his murder but was later released. Again, reading the final chapters provide further insights, but Brazilian police concluded an autopsy that Gatti hanged himself from a wooden staircase column using a handbag strap.
Regardless it was a tragic end to an accomplished pro fighter who held the IBF junior lightweight title from 1995 to 1998, and the WBC super lightweight title 2004 to 2005, a fighter of the year four times and provided fans with historic fights.
I covered the trilogy of Gatti-Ward. Then, there was Joe “the fashionable, fun-loving older brother,” as Botti portrays. “Arturo was the mischievous care-free younger brother that everyone felt the need to protect,” writes Botti.
The first Gatti-Ward battle on May 18, 2002 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, a fight delayed and made after many logistics, Ward would take with a majority decision. Both fighters attacked each other until Ward put Gatti down in the ninth round with a vicious left hook to the body. All three fights were tagged with the boxing term as “Blood baths.”
Wars they were and Gatti won the next two with unanimous decisions under co-promoter Main Events at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The first and third fights were acknowledged as Fights of the Year among boxing media.
Joe Gatti, though not with the fame of his brother, was the first to enter the ring in 2021. The former Canadian National team member, Joe tried to follow his brother’s footsteps, but in boxing it’s all about marketing and Arturo owned that character of being in the spotlight.
Botti explains how he shed light on the business of boxing as it affected both brothers, the northern New Jersey fighter scene, the gyms, trainers, managers, and promoters where both brothers were exposed. Basically, a book also that can educate a novice of the sport.
“One brother succeeded and one brother fell short of the biggest prize,” says Botti. “One had all of his and one did not. One got out before the game ground him into nothingness, while one could not. One lived the dream inside of the ring and a nightmare outside of it.”
I sensed that nightmare after interviewing Arturo a few times. A Bronx guy like me gets those indications about someone with success and battling other battles outside the ring. Truly this is a chronicle of the Gatti brothers and insides of how boxing works.
You read and learn from this extensive and true story. You relive some of the moments that I also revisited from my years covering the sport. But the name of Arturo Gatti, well that will always be a part of boxing history.
The story of “Thunder & Lightning” The Fighting Gatti Brothers. Published Win By K0 Publications and available on Ebay and other book outlets
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso