With an apparent shotgun blast to the chest, boxing has lost one of its most intriguing and brilliant fighters, as the AP has reported that three-time world champion Alexis Arguello was found dead at his home in Managua, Nicaragua on Wednesday morning. Arguello was probably best known for losing two epic battles with Aaron Pryor in the 1980s, but he also lived one of the most colorful and fascinating lives of any fighter in recent memory.
As highlighted in an incredible SPORTS ILLUSTRATED profile from 1985, Arguello suffered from crippling poverty as an Indian living in war-torn Nicaragua, and watched as his father tried to commit suicide by jumping down a well, and then wrapped the rope thrown down to haul him up around his neck. As a champion fighter, he veered from incredible self-discipline to drug use and adultry. Later, he was elected mayor of Managua - running on the ticket of the same Sandanista party that he took arms against after becoming a boxing star.
And he battled his way back from total bankruptcy - twice. The first bankruptcy happened when the Contra leadership he was supporting bled him for everything he had while living in mansions and driving sports cars. The second bankruptcy came when his former manager and father figure made a series of bad investments and shady financial dealings that left him severely in debt to the government.
The profile from 1985 details that Arguello was so despondent that he put a pistol to his head while on his boat and threatened to kill himself before his 11-year-old son tearfully pleaded with him to stop. So while Arguello had appeared to have turned his life around and reached a new pinnacle of success, the preliminary reports of his death being a suicide are plausible. But so is any conspiracy theory you want to throw out - as we’ve seen in Honduras, Central American politics is messy, and Arguello made more than his share of enemies over the years.
To see why Arguello was voted the 20th Best Puncher of All-Time by RING MAGAZINE, check out his one-punch KO of future Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney: