Lem Satterfield

Pat Lynch: ‘I believe in my heart that Arturo Gatti did not commit suicide’

Investigators examining the death of former boxer Arturo Gatti expect to announce in a few weeks that his demise was not a suicide, according to the fighter’s manager, Pat Lynch, who hired them.

In fact, according to a source familiar with the investigation, the results are “very likely” to reveal that Gatti’s death “was not a suicide.”

Lynch’s refusal to believe his friend and former fighter took his own life led him to hire Chicago-based Paul Ciolino and his partner, Joe Moura.

“These guys were hired about 10 months ago, and that’s coming to a conclusion, and we’ll have a press conference on Aug. 30 at the Global Boxing Gym in North Bergen, N.J.,” said Lynch. “There was a lot of things that were still up in the air. So when I hired them, all that I asked is that they find out the truth.”

Gatti, 37, was found dead on July 11, 2009 in his hotel room in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas. He was vacationing with his wife, Amanda Rodrigues, who was arrested and charged with his murder but later, released.

Brazilian police eventually concluded after an autopsy that Gatti hanged himself from a wooden staircase column using a handbag strap.

Ciolino was unavailable for comment but was interviewed by The Associated Press.

Ciolino told the wire service that he did not believe Gatti took his own life, calling the Brazilian investigation “inadequate and downright incompetent.” He added that when his own findings are revealed, “there will be little doubt as to what happened.”

“Ciolino even worked on the Amanda Knox case, so this is a guy who has a great reputation,” said Lynch, referring to Ciolino’s work as a consultant examining the Amanda Knox murder case for CBS’ “48 Hours.”

“You know, if it’s suicide, if it’s murder, whatever it is, I want to know. But I believe in my heart that Arturo Gatti did not commit suicide.”

A second autopsy in Canada in 2009 was observed by Michael Baden, former police pathologist and host of the HBO show “Autopsy,” at the request of Gatti’s family. Baden said coroners didn’t rule out homicide as a cause of death, according to The Associated Press.

“I can tell you that what Mr. Ciolino said was absolutely correct and that there is a lot left to be desired on the Brazilian investigation of this case. There are too many questions that have to be answered before you can make a statement that Arturo Gatti committed suicide,” said Moura. “Even in Brazil, their own prosecutor and judge have kept this case open because they felt that the medical examiner’s report was inadequate as to the specifics of this case and the autopsy itself.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t be having a massive press conference unless we felt confident with our investigation. We have spent countless hours and hours on this case, and our facts will be pure and honest and backed up by scientific experts.”

Gatti, nicknamed “Thunder,” was known for his blood-and-guts approach to boxing. He was as fierce and resilient as any fighter.

But outside of the ring, Lynch saw a different man. Gatti was an usher in Lynch’s wedding and the godfather of Lynch’s youngest daughter.

“Outside of the ring, Arturo was a special character. He was the kind of kid that, if my wife and I wanted to go out on a Saturday night, even being the famous Arturo Gatti that he was, I could call him and he would baby sit for us,” said Lynch.

“Arturo really enjoyed life, and loved kids. He was really enjoying life and really enjoying his retirement, and then this senseless thing had to happen.”

Gatti will forever be remembered for his riveting triology with Micky Ward but Lynch said the fighter’s biggest victory was over Tracy Harris Patterson in December 1995, which earned him his first of two world titles.

“Arturo’s father had passed away when he was 16, and, when he was a young boy, he said that his dream was to become world champion and to someday bring that belt back to Italy and to put it on his father’s grave,” said Lynch of the Italian-born Canadian who lived in New Jersey.

“Arturo’s father, Giovanni, always wanted a world champion in the family. Arturo always had that drive to be a world champion. So when we got the opportunity to fight Tracy Patterson in Madison Square Garden, obviously, we jumped all over it. And when he won it, I think that was one of the proudest nights of his life.”

Gatti was Atlantic City’s biggest draw, often packing Boardwalk Hall. That’s where he was beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr., who stopped Gatti in the fifth round of the fighter’s first big-time pay-per-view bout in in June 2005, Lynch described the atmosphere at Boardwalk Hall as “electric.”

“From the opening bell, nothing went right. Floyd was just so much more skillful. But Arturo would fight on Saturday night, and the phone in my office would be ringing on Monday, ‘When is he fighting again?’ They made Arturo Gatti an event. They planned their weekends around him,” said Lynch.

“People could guarantee almost two weekends a year that they were going to be in Atlantic City for two days, and they were going to a Gatti fight. I just think that Arturo became such a cult figure in Atlantic City, I don’t know if you will ever see it again. I really don’t.”

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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