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Sunday, September 25, 2011
CBS asks: Was Gatti a murder or suicide?

By Michael Woods

He was the consummate bucket o' blood brawler in his day. Arturo Gatti didn't ever consider quitting in the ring. But authorities in Brazil said that he killed himself on July 11, 2009.

The body of the 37-year-old dubbed "The Human Highlight Film" of the squared circle was found by cops after his wife Amanda, who was with the fighter on what she says was a second honeymoon, opened the door of their rented condo and screamed that he was dead. She was taken into custody as the prime suspect, accused of strangling her husband with her purse strap, But three weeks later she was released, as authorities decided that the ex-fighter had used the purse strap to hang himself.

Now a fight is taking place over what will become of Gatti's considerable estate, said to be worth over $6 million. The CBS show "48 Hours Mystery" delved into the case on Saturday night, and presented compelling arguments for both suicide and murder.

Amanda was presented as the prime suspect, as she found the body, and it was reported that the duo had a tumultuous union. Private investigator Paul Ciolino, hired by Gatti's ex-manager, Pat Lynch, to clarify the abrupt end to the boxer's life, unequivocally states that the ex-fighter was murdered, and as was made clear in the show, sees Amanda as the logical suspect. She maintains that she is no murderer.

"I miss my husband very much," she says. "I miss him when I go to sleep, I miss him when I wake up." Reporter Erin Moriarty refers to the "shadowy suspicion which shadows Amanda."

"I know my husband killed himself," Amanda says, proclaiming her innocence. She said that Gatti became a different person when he drank. "Aggressive" and "nasty," she termed him. The show said in early 2008 Gatti was hit with a domestic violence charge in Hawaii, when on vacation with his new wife.

Ciolino vehemently disagrees with the suicide theory. He talked to NYFightblog right after the "48 Hours" aired. He cast doubt on two sources in particular who on the program said they think Gatti killed himself.

One, Jersey City bar owner Mario Costa, said that years ago Gatti came into his bar, and asked for a gun. He indicated he'd use it to shoot himself, Costa said. The man said he believes the report calling the Gatti death a suicide. Ciolino said Costa "had nothing to do with Gatti for the last 15 years" and that the gun story "is unprovable."

Gatti's older brother Joe Gatti said on the show that Arturo was "on drugs" and "an alcoholic" and that he believes Arturo killed himself. He said Amanda visited him after Arturo died, and he sized her up and decided she was trustworthy.

Ciolino said Joe and Arturo hadn't been in much if any contact in about five years. Both men, the PI said, had various axes to grind with Arturo and people close to him.

The fight continues in a Canadian court, where Gatti's family and Amanda are at odds. Two wills exist, one favoring the family, one favoring Amanda. Ciolino told NYFightblog that more than $3 million in assets in New Jersey have been frozen by a N.J. judge.

What do you think? Was it suicide -- or murder?