Gatti-Gamache: A damaged fighter's quest for justice
It may seem to some like the wrong time to talk about this nearly decade-old black eye on boxing given the recent death of Arturo Gatti, and I sort of skimmed past it out of respect for what Gatti did in his career when we discussed his legacy, but there's no mistaking the fact that Gatti's controversial 2000 knockout of Joey Gamache is a story that shouldn't go away until something is done.
I loved watching Arturo Gatti. I was a huge fan of his, as pretty much everyone that loves boxing was. But that February night nine and a half years ago when Gatti knocked Gamache unconscious still sits wrong with a lot of people, and Gamache himself, who nearly died from the fight, is still in court trying to find justice.
The judge in the case, Melvin Schweitzer, winced several times during the video, apparently troubled by what took place.
Gamache nearly died in the hospital that night, and sustained permanent brain damage from the nearly six minutes of action.
Soon after, he sued the New York State Athletic Commission for negligence, claiming that Gatti was allowed to weigh in over the contracted weight limit of 141 pounds. Gatti entered the ring with what appeared to be a considerable size advantage.
For those that have seen the fight, or even a photo of the two in the ring together, it's hard to argue that Gatti didn't clearly have a size advantage. He did. The weigh-in was the source of much controversy, as it seemed the scales may have been tampered with. They agreed to fight at 141 pounds. Gamache made the limit fine. Most believe Gatti did not, including highly-respected boxing journalist Thomas Hauser:
"I don't know anybody outside of the Gatti camp who seriously maintains that Gatti made weight for that fight. They jumped him on and off the scale very quickly. It seemed pretty clear to me that someone at the commission had been told in advance that there might be a problem and the response was, 'Don't worry about it.'"
On fight night, HBO's unofficial scales had Gamache at 145 pounds. Gatti weighed 160. And though Joey Gamache has been left brain damaged by the fight that nearly killed him and ended his career, but he doesn't blame Gatti:
"He was a fighter, just doing what he's supposed to do," Gamache says of Gatti. "The commission was supposed to protect us fighters."
Arturo Gatti was scheduled to testify for both sides in this case. We'll never know what might've happened with that. Now, nobody but Gatti's team and the people involved with the weigh-in really know for sure, and the article, while very interesting (especially taking boxing jargon and knowledge into the courtroom), is an emotionally told tale. Still, you can't help but continue to wonder if Gamache's life could have been totally different, and if it should have been. It's one of those terrible stories that shouldn't be forgotten.