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Arturo Gatti death ruled SUICIDE !

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Boxer Arturo Gatti's death was ruled a suicide by police Thursday and a a judge ordered the release of his wife, who was once suspected of killing the former champion.

Lead investigator Paulo Alberes told The Associated Press that authorities decided Gatti killed himself on July 11 while at a seaside resort in northeastern Brazil.

When asked if police had determined the case was a suicide, Alberes said "yes." He offered no other details.

A day after the 37-year-old Gatti was found dead, police said that his Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, had strangled him with her purse strap as he drunkenly slept.

But police began to back off the accusation about a week later after a coroner's report said Gatti may have killed himself as he was found "suspended and hanged." The autopsy report didn't exclude the possibility he was slain, but said he also could have died in an unexplained accident, besides killing himself.

"The police investigation concluded that Arturo killed himself," said Celio Avelino, Rodrigues' attorney. "I've said before it would have been impossible for her to suspend and hang a man of that size."

Judge Ildete Verissimo de Lima ordered the immediate release of the 23-year-old Rodrigues after receiving the police report.

The judge wrote in the ruling that police informed the court "the detention of the suspect was no longer needed" as the investigation "excludes the possibility of murder."

"The victim ... committed suicide by hanging," Lima's ruling read, referring to the police investigation findings.

Rodrigues will walk out of jail Thursday afternoon, said her lawyer, Avelino.

Gatti was found dead in the apartment he was renting with Rodrigues in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas. The pair arrived there a few days before Gatti's death for a second honeymoon. The couple brought their 10-month-old son, who was unhurt and is in the care of Rodrigues' family in Brazil.

From the accounts of Gatti's family and friends, the marriage with Rodrigues was tumultuous.

"She was yelling all the time, they were always fighting and she'd say 'I'm going to kill you!' when they fought," Gatti's mother, Ida, said in a telephone interview from Montreal shortly after her son's death.

According to records at the Court of Quebec's criminal and penal division, Gatti was charged on April 16 for violating a restraining order that had been filed against him. The records didn't indicate who filed the restraining order, but Gatti's mother confirmed that it was Rodrigues who had taken one out against him. She offered no other details.

In a July 15 letter she gave the AP from jail, Rodrigues insisted she is innocent.

"The people most important to my life, who know us, know the size of our love," she wrote. "What hurts me is knowing the suffering of my family and friends. What hurts me is to know that my husband will not be in my house waiting for my return."

Gatti, who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.

Gatti's family and friends in his adopted hometown of Montreal denied the boxer could have killed himself.

"I'm a little bit shocked, I can't believe it. I don't even know what to say," said Radka Baranaiova, the fiancee of Gatti's brother, Fabrizio.

At his July 20 funeral in Canada, others said there was no chance the Gatti -- known for his brutal fighting style and ability to take relentless punishment yet still pull out a victory -- would have killed himself.

"Nobody believes whatsoever that there's even a 1 percent chance of a suicide. He lived life to the fullest," Ivano Scarpa, a close Gatti family friend, said at the time.

But Rodrigues, in her letter from prison, said: "I'm innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days."

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Arturo Gatti's wife, accused of strangling the champion boxer with her purse strap, proclaims her innocence and love for her dead husband in a letter given to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

While declining to be interviewed from her jail cell in the northeastern Brazil city of Recife, Amanda Rodrigues did hand over a letter written on white, lined paper and penned in red ink.

"This is a pain that has become inexplicable and intolerable, this loss and this malicious accusation," Rodrigues wrote. "I lost my husband!"

The 23-year-old Rodrigues told investigators she awoke on Saturday about 6 a.m. to find her husband's body in the apartment they rented in Porto de Galinhas, a seaside resort in Pernambuco state. She then called police.

But investigators said she was the only suspect and they are certain she killed Gatti in the apartment where they and their 10-month-old son arrived for a second honeymoon last week. The boy was unhurt and was in the care of Rodrigues' family.

"I'm innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days," Rodrigues wrote.

But those who knew Gatti and Rodrigues in the U.S. and Canada have said their relationship was rocky at best.

"She was yelling all the time, they were always fighting and she'd say 'I'm going to kill you!' when they fought," Gatti's mother, Ida, told the AP by phone from Montreal.

According to records at the Court of Quebec's criminal and penal division, Gatti was charged on April 16 for violating a restraining order that had been filed against him. The records didn't indicate who filed the restraining order, but Gatti's mother confirmed that it was Rodrigues who had taken one out against him. She offered no other details.

Gatti's stepfather Geraldo DiFrancesco said the pair fought, but that he "was surprised" it went as far as Gatti's death. "You can never expect something like that to happen."

Chuck Zito, an actor and friend of Gatti who met the boxer 13 years ago and accompanied him to the ring for several of his most notable fights, said he knew the couple was having problems.

"Things were real rocky. They were rocky between them from the beginning," Zito said. "He said they were probably going to get a divorce."

Zito said Gatti met his wife at the strip club Scores in New York and that Gatti's friends tried to talk him out of marrying her.

Rodrigues, however, batted away the criticism in her letter.

"The people most important to my life, who know us, know the size of our love," she wrote. "What hurts me is knowing the suffering of my family and friends. What hurts me is to know that my husband will not be in my house waiting for my return."

An autopsy report on Gatti was due to be released within days. Investigators said they had no new information to share, but remained steadfast in their theory that Rodrigues acted alone -- and that the alleged murder may have been premeditated, saying she may have encouraged him to drink excessively so she could overpower him later.

Police spokeswoman Milena Saraiva said Gatti was very drunk -- to the point of being incapacitated.

Rodrigues' lawyer, Celio Avelino, on Tuesday petitioned a court for her release pending the result of the investigation, but he said no action had been taken on the request as of late Wednesday.

Gatti's body was released to his brother on Tuesday and was in the process of being flown back to Montreal, where a funeral was expected to take place on Monday.

"It doesn't feel real yet," DiFrancesco said of Gatti's death. "I think it will feel real when we see the body."

In her letter, Rodrigues remained optimistic, writing to her son: "Junior -- soon mama will be at home!"

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Police investigating the death of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti are working on the assumption his wife strangled him with her purse strap while he drunkenly slept.

While cautioning that nothing is being ruled out, lead investigator Moises Teixeira told The Associated Press on Monday he is certain the woman acted alone.

"It was technically impossible for a third person to have been in the flat" where Gatti was found dead early Saturday, Teixeira said. "The investigation isn't finished, but we continue to think she did this alone."

Gatti's 23-year-old Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, told investigators she awoke Saturday about 6 a.m. to find her husband's body in the apartment they rented in Porto de Galinhas, a seaside resort in northeastern Pernambuco state.

Rodrigues told police she had a fight with Gatti after dinner Friday night and he pushed her to the ground, resulting in minor injuries to her elbow and chin. Witnesses also reported to police the couple fought and that Gatti was drunk.

Rodrigues told police the 37-year-old former junior welterweight champion then got into a cab with their son and returned to their rented apartment, leaving her alone downtown.

Teixeira said witnesses told police Gatti left his son to sleep in the apartment, then returned to the city center to find his wife. She arrived at the apartment before he did and waited for him. They then both went upstairs together.

Rodrigues told police she slept on the second floor of the apartment with her son, while Gatti slept on the first floor. She told police she awoke at 6 a.m. to feed her son and discovered her husband's body. Police say he most likely had been killed at least four hours before that.

Teixeira said police do not think anyone else entered the apartment and killed Gatti -- he said there were no signs of forced entry and electronic locks indicated nobody else had entered the room aside from Rodrigues and Gatti.

The pair married in 2007 and according to Rodrigues had a rocky relationship. Authorities were told the couple was extremely jealous of each other and that Gatti constantly complained about her clothing when she traveled to Brazil, police spokeswoman Milena Saraiva said.

According to Brazilian law, police accuse a person of a crime but it is up to the prosecutor to formally file a charge. Teixeira said police have until July 22 to deliver their findings to the prosecutor's office, but he hoped the investigation would be completed before then.

Rodrigues was accused of the crime Sunday and taken into police custody. She has been transferred to a woman's prison in the state capital Recife. She maintains her innocence.

Gatti, Rodrigues and their 10-month-old son arrived in Brazil on Friday for what they told a local real estate agent was a second honeymoon. The baby, who was unhurt, is now with Rodrigues' family in Brazil.

Gatti, a Canadian, fought an epic trilogy with Micky Ward that branded him one of the most exciting fighters of his generation. He retired in 2007 with a career record of 40-9 and 31 knockouts.

Known for his straightforward punching and granitelike chin, Gatti captured the super featherweight title in 1995, when he defeated Tracy Harris Patterson in Atlantic City, N.J. He won the junior welterweight title in 2004.

Arturo Gatti, who trained at Gleason's Gym inBrooklynand became a star on the Boardwalk inNew Jerseywhile winning acclaim as one of the most compelling television fighters of the modern era for his rough-and-tumble style, was found dead Saturday inBrazil.

Gatti, 37, was on his second honeymoon with his wife, Amanda, and their 10-month-old baby when his blood-spattered body was discovered in a seaside resort in Porto de Galinhas, according to media reports.

A police investigation was ongoing and foul play is suspected. Gatti was found to have blood stains on the back of his head and neck around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, according to theCanadian Broadcasting Co.

A police spokeswoman said "there were no bullet or stab wounds on his body, but police did find blood stains on the floor."

His death comes on the heels of another boxing legend,Alexis Arguello, who won titles in three weight classes and died on July 1 from an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest inNicaragua.

Gatti (40-9, 31 knockouts) was raised inMontreal, but became a star inAtlantic City, where he won his first title, at junior welterweight, by beatingTracy Harris Pattersonin 1995, then went on to have some of his most memorable fights by the Boardwalk. He continued to live inJersey Cityafter retiring - his last fight was a seventh-round TKO at the hands of Alfonso Gomez on July 14, 2007, in Atlantic City.

Gatti, nicknamed "Thunder," started his professional career in 1991 and won world championships in two different weight classes, at 130 pounds and 140 pounds.

Gatti was best known for his three fights withMicky Wardin 2002 and 2003 - the first inUncasville,Conn., the final two in Atlantic City. Both fighters were known for their all-action style and matching them together provided some of the most intense boxing action of the decade. Gatti won the series 2-1, all on brutal 10-round decisions, and the two fighters grew close outside the ring, often golfing together.

"He was a great guy. He enjoyed life," Ward said when reached at his home inLowell, Mass."People don't understand how two guys who beat the heck out of each other could become friends, but that's what happened. He was the heart and soul of boxing. I'm going to miss him."

Gatti was never quite the same after his battles with Ward - although he won his next two fights, to capture and retain theWBCjunior welterweight title againstGianluca BrancoandLeonard Dorin, he was TKO'd byFloyd Mayweather Jr.on June 25, 2005, and lost toCarlos Baldomiron a ninth-round TKO with the welterweight title on the line in 2006, his second-to-last fight

Gatti also lost toOscar De La Hoyain 2001, but it was his style and spirit that the boxing world noted more than his record.

"I don't know if there's such thing as a 20-count, but their should be a 20-count for these two great warriors (Gatti and Arguello)," saidGary Shaw, former COO of Main Events. "Nobody ever said he was the greatest fighter in the world but they did say he was the most exciting. He was just a joy to watch."

Gatti was scheduled to testify in a trial inNew Yorkthis week in a lawsuit filed against theNew York State Athletic Commissionby former opponentJoey Gamache, who was knocked out by Gatti in 2000. Gamache never fought again.

"I feel so sad right now," Gamache said, reached at his home inManhattan. "He did so much for boxing. I don't blame him for anything that happened. He was a fighter, just doing his job."

Carl Moretti, who also worked with Gatti at Main Events, said that Gatti and his wife Amanda, who is from Brazil, had separated but had recently gotten back together and were celebrating a second honeymoon.

Moretti said Gatti's sister was scheduled to get married Saturday inFlorida, deepening the tragedy even further.

"He was happy," Moretti said.

Gatti's ability to fight through adversity was legendary and earned him the nickname the "Human Highlight Film" from formerHBOexecutiveLou DiBella, who put together several of his fights.

"He had that 'it' factor," DiBella said. "He had all of those external things you need to become a star: he tasted his own blood, fought through a shut eye. He was a warrior. People loved him."

Arturo Gatti Bio, one of the toughest in the sport


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