During the first few months of their courtship, Arturo Gatti's widow says she didn't know she was dating a world champion boxer.
Amanda Rodrigues told the story of her relationship with the late boxer Wednesday as she took the stand for the first time in a civil trial over his estate.
She described their chance meeting while both were out walking their dogs in Hoboken, N.J., during the summer of 2006.
She was 19 at the time. He was 34 and nearing the end of his career.
"I fell in love with him before I knew what he did in life," Rodrigues testified.
"I really believe that's why he chose me as the only wife he ever had."
Rodrigues is in a bitter battle with the late boxer's family over his fortune. She says she is the only heir in his legal will.
But his family rejects that will and says Gatti was pressured into signing it just before his sudden death.
They don't believe his death was a suicide.
A judge suggested Wednesday that the two sides find common ground because Gatti's money is running out.
Rodrigues was firm, however, that she would not yield an inch.
"I don't want to negotiate," Rodrigues said outside the courtroom, while being whisked past journalists by her lawyer who was telling her not to comment.
Her lawyer later confirmed there would be no deal.
While on the stand, Rodrigues described the couple's early relationship, saying she only discovered Gatti's day job when he was approached by a fan as they walked through New York's Central Park.
"It didn't matter to me," Rodrigues said of his boxing career, admitting she knew little about the sport.
The couple was quietly engaged in May 2007 and married three months later in Las Vegas, forgoing a plan to have a big Brazilian wedding because of Rodrigues' visa problems.
Days before that impromptu wedding, Gatti brought Rodrigues to his manager's office where she was asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.
She said she did so without hesitation -- because she was in love and it didn't matter to her.
"Even today, I've never read that document. I don't know what was inside," Rodrigues said.
"When you marry, you don't think about divorce, you think it's going to last forever. That's why people get married."
The couple would return to the office of lawyer John Lynch just days after their wedding and Rodrigues testified that Gatti was intent on tearing up the document of his own volition.
They were told at the office that it had been mailed so Rodrigues assumed the pre-nuptial agreement had been lost in the mail.
She only discovered that it still existed when she saw a 2010 Maxim Magazine article titled, "To the death: Gatti vs. Gatti (Rodrigues)."
Gatti consulted divorce lawyer
Rodrigues' credibility was called into question when she was asked if she'd hired a divorce lawyer in the final months before Gatti's death.
While the couple continued to struggle with their marriage around May 2009, Rodrigues said she was shocked and hurt to get a call from a divorce lawyer Gatti had consulted.
She had said in previous testimony that she had not secured any legal representation -- but she contradicted that in testimony Wednesday where she said she had, in fact, consulted a lawyer.
She explained that she was angered by his gesture.
Lawyers' involvement triggered a change of heart for the couple, Rodrigues testified, and they decided to try to make it work again and take a second honeymoon in Europe.
One month later, the boxer was found dead in Brazil.
Estate worth $3.4 million
Earlier Wednesday, Justice Claudine Roy asked both sides to consider attending a settlement conference before a different judge, expressing concern Gatti's money would be all dried up by the time legal proceedings were done.
Roy said new documents from Rodrigues' lawyers estimate Gatti's estate is only worth about $3.4 million. Initially, the amount was believed to be more than double that.
Rodrigues' lawyer, Pierre-Hugues Fortin, said his client's decision is firm.
"My client is not willing to settle the case at this stage. This is her final decision," Fortin said.