Three-time champion and Boxing Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello was found dead of a gunshot would this morning, at his home in Managua, Nicaragua, of which he was mayor, in what authorities are calling a suicide. What political repercussions, if any, Arguello’s death may have remains to be seen, but the impact of his life and career upon my native Nicaragua is not in doubt.
Arguello, who had opposed Nicaragua’s Sandinista government during the 1980s, recently joined President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party to run for Managua mayor. His shifting political allegiances are not that unusual in a country where political alliances can shift in unexpected ways. More surprising was his entering politics in the first place.
As a boxer in the 1970s, he dominated the light weight divisions, winning featherweight, super-featherweight, and lightweight titles. As Nicaragua’s first world champion of anything, he became a national icon. I remember as a kid in Nicaragua in the 1970s how the country would stop for one his fights — everyone from all walks of life and all political persuasions would be in front of a TV whenever Alexis stepped into the ring. Here’s hoping Nicaragua can find that kind of unity again.
Iconic status aside, he was also a fun fighter to watch. Here’s one great KO I remember.