Arturo (Thunder) Gatti wasn't the biggest talent in boxing, but the flash and power he showed in the ring was enough to put the Montreal fighter into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Hall announced Monday that Gatti, five-time world champion Virgil Hill and South Korean light flyweight Yuh Myung-Woo were elected as the class of 2013, along with referee Mills Lane, ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. and journalist Colin Hart.
They will be enshrined June 9 at the Hall in Canastota, N.Y.
Gatti's family plans to attend the ceremony, and a campaign has been launched to have a park named for him in the Montreal North neighbourhood where he grew up.
The two-time champion died under mysterious circumstances three years ago in Brazil. Police pronounced it a suicide, but his family and others in boxing believe foul play was involved.
Jeremy Filosa, a radio sports reporter in Montreal who was a childhood friend of Gatti's and who sometimes acts as a spokesman for the family, said they felt relief at the announcement.
"This has put a bit of a smile back on their faces," said Filosa. "What's been good over the last couple of days is that we're talking a lot more about Arturo the athlete and his career and not about how he passed away.
"That really drained a lot of energy from the family. This is just a day where they can smile and reflect on his career because what he did in boxing was incredible. People forget how amazing he was."
Gatti and Hill were each elected in their first year of eligibility. Hill (50-7) won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and got his first pro title in 1987.
Yuh (38-1) was a two-time champion who retired in 1993.
Gatti, who was born in Italy but moved to Montreal with his family as a young child, compiled a good but not outstanding 40-9 record with 31 knockouts from 1991 to 2007.
It was the brawling, often bloody way he won and lost his bouts and the courage and personality he showed in the ring that got him into the Hall of Fame.
Four times his bouts were named fight of the year, including two of his three memorable battles with Mickey Ward in 2002 and 2003. Along the way, he won the IBF junior lightweight belt in 1995 and the WBC light welterweight title in 2004.
When he took on the top fighters, such as Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, he tended to find himself outclassed. But he was a mainstay on the HBO specialty channel and at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where many of his biggest bouts were staged.
Montreal fight promoter Yvon Michel said Gatti deserved the honour.
"I know there were some qualms about it," said Michel. "People were saying that to go in the Hall you have to be the best of your era and obviously Arturo was not the best, but he was probably the best seller.
"He was important for the business of boxing. When he fought, he brought boxing to another level. Atlantic City hasn't been the same since he retired."
'A great guy and an amazing boxer'
Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal of Montreal called Gatti "a great guy and an amazing boxer.
"It's an honour for us to have that guy in the Hall of Fame and I'll try to make my way there also."
Gatti and his brother Joe moved to New Jersey to turn pro in 1991. He fought only once in his home town — a blood-spattered 10-round decision over Joe Hutchinson in 2000 that served as a tune-up for his five-round loss to De La Hoya.
He returned to live in Montreal after he retired.
Filosa said friends and family hope to have Ottawa Park in Montreal North renamed and to have a statue erected. Gatti played goalie in hockey and ran track, but he also had a punching bag in the garage at home.
"The whole world of the Italian neighbourhood in Montreal North would stop spinning when Arturo Gatti would climb into the ring," he said. "All the Italian bars would fill up. You couldn't find anybody in the street."
Lightweight Wesley Ramsey and middleweight Jeff Smith joined the 2013 class from the posthumous category.
Manager Arturo (Cuyo) Hernandez, cartoonist Ted Carroll and 19th century Irish boxer Joe Coburn made it in the pioneer division.
Selections were made by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.