CANASTOTA, N.Y. – Boosted so she could reach the microphone and speak on a most special day for her late father, 7-year-old Sofia Gatti beamed.
“Thank you from my dad,” she said Sunday as Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
On a day that included six deceased inductees, Gatti remained fresh on the mind of everybody, especially his longtime manager Pat Lynch.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment for Arturo. This little girl here shall have this memory forever,” said Lynch, who fought back tears when he spoke. “It was so great to see his mom and all of them come down to celebrate such a brilliant career. It’s a truly deserving award for him. I know he’s looking down with a big smile on his face.”
Also inducted were: Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill, a five-time world champion who won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and defended his light heavyweight title 20 times over his two reigns; two-time light flyweight champion Yuh Myung-woo of South Korea; lightweight Wesley Ramey and middleweight Jeff Smith in the old-timer (posthumous) category; 19th century Irish boxer Joe Coburn in the pioneer category; referee Mills Lane, whose “Let’s get it on” prefight chant endeared him to boxing fans; ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.; manager Arturo “Cuyo” Hernandez; cartoonist Ted Carroll; and journalist Colin Hart.
Inductees were selected by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.
Born in Calabria, Italy and raised in Montreal, Gatti moved to Jersey City, N.J., as a teenager. He retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9 with 31 knockouts and won titles in two divisions.
Gatti died at age 37 in Brazil in July 2009. His body was found at an apartment that he had rented with his wife and their infant son in a seaside resort. Police initially held Gatti’s wife as a suspect, but eventually released her and concluded Gatti hung himself from a staircase railing using a handbag strap.
He was selected for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
“He always used to say to us, ‘Do you think I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame?’ ” Lynch said. “I said, ‘Of course. They can’t stop you from being in the Hall of Fame. You’re deserving.’ ”
“Irish” Micky Ward had three memorable bouts with Gatti. Ward won his first junior welterweight fight against Gatti, blood streaming down his face as he captured a majority decision in May 2002. Gatti avenged the loss in Atlantic City, N.J., knocking down Ward in the third with a punch that shattered one of Ward’s eardrums and sent him face-first into a stanchion. Gatti broke his right hand in the fight and won a unanimous 10-round decision.
Gatti triumphed over Ward with a 10-round decision in the rubber match in June 2003, and it was another brutal slugfest. It wasn’t a title fight but had a raucous sellout crowd of 12,643 – the largest ever for a non-heavyweight fight in Atlantic City.