Death of A Legend…Again

In 2001 or 2002, I was preparing to sit through “Friday Night Fights” with my husband.  I’d never been a fan of boxing at all.  I had not found it too violent, really, just too boring.  Just before the fight ended, he got a telephone call.  I watched to see the conclusion, even though my interest was zero.  When the fight was over, I could see that hubby would be on the phone some time longer and I was about to change the channel when they started showing clips and talking about a comeback.  I saw this man come on the screen and he looked straight out of a 1940’s boxing movie (which I loved, despite – or possibly the cause of – my dislike of the sport).

He was dancing in there and the grace moved me as nothing I had seen in boxing before.  They talk about how he was about to stage a comeback with a new manager and how he had vowed to stop the between fights partying that had let him down in the past.  They talked about how he had heart and kept going no matter how he was knocked down (with clips to prove it, of course).  When my husband finally got off the phone, I was still watching FNF, even though that fighter was no longer on the screen.  I said “Jay, we’ve got to watch this guy, Gatti.  He’s amazing.”

That was before the 3 fights with Mickey Ward, where HBO even filmed the lead-in for one of the fights in grainy black and white, making the same comparison I’d made a year or so before, but we watched every fight he was in after that.  His defeat by Mayweather left me feeling sick and his final loss saddened me greatly – he had made me love this sport and now he was leaving it – how could I watch?  I haven’t much since that night.  Whenever I have, I have still felt a little sad.  None of the boxers had Thunder.  None of them had half as much heart.

And now he has left us all forever.  I did not know this man.  I have no right to be this sad.  Yet I feel that the world is a much diminished place in his absence.  Rest in peace, Arturo.

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