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Newz Forum: BOXING: Gamache files second lawsuit over weigh-in before final KO

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posted on Apr, 14 2004 @ 11:37 PM
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Four years after the knockout that ended his career, ex-champ Joey Gamache has a nephew boxing professionally, a new attorney and another lawsuit claiming fraud at his final weigh-in.

The 37-year-old also has neurological damage and headaches still from the brutal two-round KO by a larger man, said attorney Michael Coyle. Gamache has been doing some work as a boxing trainer and promoter but said the migraines stop him and he takes medications.

"I'm always optimistic in the sense that's the way I grew up," Gamache said Wednesday. "If I'm not feeling good or suffering, if I'm having problems, I keep things to myself."

The problems are public in federal court in Manhattan, where the latest lawsuit named boxer Arturo Gatti, his manager Patrick Lynch, promoters Top Rank and Main Events, former New York State Athletic Commission executive director Anthony Russo and ex-chairman Melville Southard Jr. The suit claims they all knew Gatti was overweight but made sure the fight went ahead.

"Joey's professional career as a fighter was ended by what, as far as I'm concerned, was a total fraud on the part of Gatti, his people, the promoters and the athletic commission," Coyle said.

Known for winning a $4.4 million jury award in 1996 for Kevin Rooney after the trainer was fired by heavyweight Mike Tyson, Coyle took over Gamache's case in December.

The defendants have denied any wrongdoing, saying Gatti reached the 141-pound contract limit and has been prone to gaining several pounds between weigh-ins and boxing matches the next day. The state inspector general's office agreed in a report last year.

The new suit seeking $10 million was filed on the four-year anniversary of the Feb. 26, 2000, HBO-televised fight. A $5.5 million suit against the commission filed two years ago is pending in the state Court of Claims.

The suits allege Russo let Gatti step off the scale even as the needle went all the way up, and then ignored complaints by Gamache's handlers. Less than 24 hours later, HBO unofficially weighed the boxers again, and Gatti came in at 160 pounds, while Gamache weighed 145.

"No human being puts on 10 pounds of muscle overnight. It's supposed to be a fair fight, and that's not a fair fight," said Coyle. He has the weigh-in videotape, he said.

Gatti, who now holds a world title at junior welterweight, has said his weight was questioned only because the fight was a blowout. "If I had beat him up for five or six rounds, then nobody would have said anything," he said.

Lynch has questioned the accuracy of the HBO's unofficial second weigh-in on fight night at Madison Square Garden, saying it was a bathroom scale on an uneven floor.

A spokesman for the athletic commission, which Russo left later in 2000, declined to comment on pending litigation.

The state attorney general's office is defending the commission in the Court of Claims and denied allegations of negligence and fraud, saying that Gamache knew the risks in boxing, and any injuries were caused by his own conduct or others for whom the commission is not responsible.

Gamache was knocked down twice in the first round and out in the second.

The Manhattan district attorney's office looked into allegations of athletic commission (NYSAC) wrongdoing and turned findings over to the state inspector general's office (OSIG), which issued its report last year.

The inspector general found "no reason ... to conclude that whatever events occurred at the weigh-in or thereafter were the result of any NYSAC official's improper conduct. NYSAC told OSIG that there has been no lawsuit filed or action requested by anyone involved in that bout."

Gamache's former attorney announced publicly weeks after the fight they were making a claim against the commission and would sue.

The inspector general also noted that Gamache's handlers had rejected an advance offer for a same-day weigh-in.

Same day weigh-ins are considered riskier because of boxer dehydration, Coyle said. Gamache himself was struggling to get under 141 pounds. The ex-boxer said that's really the issue.

"Who couldn't have admiration for a guy like Joe Gatti who fights his heart out. He's a warrior," Gamache said. "But if I had to make weight, he should have had to make weight."

The inspector general's report said weigh-in procedures by the commission had recently improved. "New digital scales are being used for a more accurate reading," the report said. "When the official weight is called, the opposite side must give a 'thumbs up' in approval."

Gamache, a former world junior lightweight and lightweight champion, ended his 14-year career with 55-4 pro record and 38 knockouts. By contract he got $65,000 for the last fight, plus $10,000 for expenses. He spent two days in the hospital. He has since trained his nephew and some other fighters at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn and returned to his hometown of Lewiston, Maine, in March for 18-year-old Ryan Gamache's winning pro debut, a first-round knockout.

Gatti, 32, from Jersey City, N.J., got $300,000 for the Gamache fight four years ago, according to court papers. In January, he outpointed Gianluca Branco in 12 rounds in Atlantic City to win the WBC junior welterweight title. He's expected to fight unbeaten Leonard Dorin in Atlantic City in July.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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