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The Globe and Mail

Gatti fortune dispute inches closer to settlement

Amanda Rodrigues, widow of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti, leaves court in Montreal with her lawyer, Pierre-Hughes Fortin, on Wednesday.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The survivors of former world champion boxer Arturo Gatti are close to settling acrimonious lawsuits over his rapidly dwindling fortune.

Mr. Gatti's widow, Amanda Rodrigues, and the rest of his family negotiated Tuesday to bring an end to a sad saga that threatened to drain away the last of Mr. Gatti's millions.

Lawyers described negotiations as "very positive" and said they were confident a deal would be reached when court reconvenes Wednesday morning.

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A settlement would end a Montreal trial over Mr. Gatti's will and a wrongful death suit filed last week in New Jersey by Erika Rivera, the mother of one of Mr. Gatti's two children.

Both sides seemed intent on ensuring a part of Mr. Gatti's fortune would be set aside for future use by each of his two pre-school aged children.

The sudden start of negotiations were a complete turnaround in a case in which the Gattis accused Ms. Rodrigues of killing the Canadian boxer, while the Brazilian woman had vowed never to negotiate.

The ice seemed to break over the weekend, when Ms. Rodrigues arranged to have Mr. Gatti's son, Arturo Jr., visit the Gatti family at their Montreal home. Suddenly, family members were having civil exchanges in the courthouse hallway.

Another important factor was that Mr. Gatti's estate, estimated at $6- to $8-million shortly after his death, added up to only $3.4-million by the time the trial started last week.

In the meantime, additional lawsuits in the United States threatened to tie up funds for years and drain away millions in legal fees.

Mr. Gatti, a former welterweight world boxing champion, died in July 2009 at 37. His body was found in a hotel suite where his wife, Ms. Rodrigues, and their son were sleeping. He died by strangulation. Ms. Rodrigues was initially arrested before Brazilian authorities ruled the case a suicide.

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The Gatti family never accepted the decision. Fuelling their suspicions about Ms. Rodrigues was the fact Mr. Gatti signed a new will leaving his entire fortune to her just weeks before he died.

Brazilian prosecutors promised to take another look at the case earlier this month, after private investigators in the U.S. issued a 325-page report saying ruling out the possibility of suicide.

The Montreal trial was only to rule on the legitimacy of Mr. Gatti's will. In two weeks of evidence, it became clear Mr. Gatti's marriage to Ms. Rodrigues, 25, was unravelling after only 22 months.

Police repeatedly intervened in violent confrontations between the two while former friends described constant violence and threats. Amid the evident domestic strife, Mr. Gatti repeatedly took trips with Ms. Rodrigues while making her the sole beneficiary of his will.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Les Perreaux joined the Montreal bureau of the Globe and Mail in 2008. He previously worked for the Canadian Press covering national and international affairs, including federal and Quebec politics and the war in Afghanistan. More

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