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Boxing Champ Murdered by Stripper Wife, Say Police

(AP Photo/Mary Godleski)
Arturo Gatti celebrates after winning the WBC junior welterweight championship in Atlantic City, N.J. in 2004.

SAO PAULO (AP) Boxing legend Arturo Gatti's stripper wife strangled the former champ to death with a purse strap while he slept, say Brazilian police, who have taken the 23-year-old dancer into custody.

The couple was vacationing at a posh seaside tourist resort in Brazil.

Police said Amanda Rodrigues, a Brazilian native who, according to the Daily News, met Gatti while dancing at a strip club, was taken into custody after contradictions in her interrogation and presented a formal accusation against her. Prosecutors will later decide whether she will be charged.

Rodrigues, who denies any involvement in her husband's death, was the first to find the slain boxer's body early Saturday inside the vacation apartment they were renting at the Porto de Galinhas resort in northeastern Brazil, police said.

The former junior welterweight champion was apparently strangled with the strap of a purse, which was found at the scene with blood stains, said Milena Saraiva, a spokeswoman for the Pernambuco state civil police. She told The Associated Press that Gatti also sustained a head injury.

Police said Rodrigues, a Brazilian, could not explain how she spent nearly 10 hours inside the residence without noticing that Gatti was already dead.

Rodrigues told police she had a fight with Gatti after dinner Friday night and he pushed her to the ground during the altercation, causing her to sustain minor injuries to her elbow and chin. She told authorities Gatti was drunk and that a third party likely committed the crime after he went to the apartment by himself.

Witnesses had reported to police that the couple fought and that Gatti was drunk.

Authorities were told the couple was extremely jealous of each other and that Gatti constantly complained about her clothing when she traveled to Brazil, Saraiva said.

Acelino "Popo" Freitas, a four-time world champion Brazilian boxer, told Globo TV's Web site on Saturday that he was a close friend of Gatti and his wife and that he "knew they were having some sort of problem and were about to separate."

They had planned to spend one month in Brazil on vacation.

The couple's 1-year-old son, who was unhurt, was handed to Rodrigues' sister, Saraiva said.

The 37-year-old Gatti, whose epic trilogy with Micky Ward branded him one of the most exciting fighters of his generation, retired in 2007 with a career record of 40-9 and 31 knockouts.

Known for his straightforward punching and granite-like 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.

  • Edecio Martinez

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