Although he will not be awarded any monetary damages, Joey Gamache insists the split decision he received after he sued the New York State Boxing Commission over how it handled the weigh-in the Arturo Gatti fight was not a hollow victory.
Gamache’s attorney, Keith Sullivan, told the New York Daily News on Saturday that Judge Melvin Schweitzer, who presided over the nonjury trial in the New York State Court of Claims, concluded in a written 47-page decision that the commission had been negligent in its handling of the weigh-in for the fight, but that the negligence had not necessarily affected the outcome.
The ruling means Gamache, 43, will not be awarded damages, and although the case is over, Sullivan still has the option to file an appeal.
“It (trial) took a long time; it took 10 years,” said Gamache, who is now a licensed boxing trainer in New York City, where also owns an apartment building . “I feel good about the fact that we did prove negligence. I feel there is no other way you can look at it.
“I was happy with the outcome. You have a choice to be happy or unhappy. I spent a lot of money — 40 or 50 thousand dollars — paying for lawyers. (But) it was more about the principle than the money.”
The Maine native is still deciding whether to appeal the verdict.
“It’s a possibility,” said Gamache, who still suffers headaches from the devastating Gatti bout. “I got to talk to my attorney and see what we are going to do.”
Gamache squared off against Gatti on Feb. 26, 2000, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight nearly cost the Maine native his life. Gamache was knocked to the floor twice in the first round and received a more serious blow in the second. He was hospitalized with severe head trauma and was diagnosed with brain damage.
Gamache believed that Gatti held a 15-pound advantage for the fight.
The case was also complicated by the Gatti’s death, which was ruled a suicide last year. He died two days before the start of the trial and his death remains under investigation.
Sullivan was unhappy with the verdict, telling the New York Daily News that, “Because weight is one of the most important issues in the sport of boxing, and if you don’t get that right and you don’t have fighters fighting in the proper weight class, it can have devastating consequences.”
Matchmaker and former promoter Johnny Bos, who promoted Gamache’s fights, was disgusted with the judge’s ruling.
“How can anybody in their right mind be happy about it,” said Bos, from his residence in Florida. “They said it was negligence, and if he couldn’t award us money, how could he take it away from us. How can anybody be happy with this verdict.
“I can never tell a kid, ‘Obey the the law and it will be alright. I can never tell a kid that. This was no victory at all. Did it change the results of the fight? Joey is going to suffer for the rest of his life with headaches. It was a bad knockout.”
Bos said the legal battle over the last 10 years has cost him his career as a promoter in the Northeast.
“This completely destroyed me,” said Bos, who has stood by his former fighter. “It didn’t hurt me. It took my life away.”
Joe Gamache Sr. was also disappointed with the court ruling.
“I think it was terrible,” he said. “They find negligence and he gets no compensation. What can you do! Joey said, ‘Dad, it was never about the money for me.’ Joey is so mellow. I support my son if he does not appeal.”