Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Alexis Arguello: Gentleman Champion

Three-time Boxing World Champion Alexis Arguello
By Davy V.

It was 1981, I was 10 years old and my dad and I were glued to the television set watching Boxing Legend Alexis Arguello methodically take apart tough Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.

I remember me and my dad yelling at the t.v. "Go Arguello! Go!" and then one minute and forty seconds into the 14th round, Arguello landed a 5 punch combination to Mancini's mid section and face, sending "Boom Boom" to the canvas as the referee waived his hands in the air.

That was the end of that fight.

My dad and I would watch all of Arguello's fights. I remember being so excited seeing Arguello make his way to the ring while Eye of the Tiger, played!

Alexis Arguello passed away on July 1, 2009.

He was 57- years -old.

He was found dead in his home in Managua, Nicaragua.

It is believed that he died of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Having lived in Miami, Florida for years, Arguello later returned to his country and became involved in Politics and in 2008 was elected Mayor of Nicaragua's Capital, Managua.

I could sit here and write on and on about what a great fighter Alexis Arguello was. I could write about his fights against Ray Mancini and Aaron Pryor.

I could write about how he was a three time World Champion, a Boxing Hall of Famer, who had an outstanding record of 82 fights with only 8 losses and 65 knockouts!

I could do that but the Alexis Arguello I want to write about is the one outside the ring.

I first met Alexis Arguello in 1982, after he beat Andy Ganigan in Atlantic City.

My dad somehow managed to reach Arguello by phone. We told him how much we admired him as a boxer and how we never missed any of his fights. He told me he would send me an autographed poster.

A week later I received an 11x17 poster signed by him, this three time World Champion.

I couldn’t believe it!

To me, Alexis Arguello is so much more than just a boxer.

He reminds me of my childhood and of the bond I had with my dad.

Arguello reminds me of a simpler time and way of life, a time when sitting next to
my dad in front of the TV and waiting for Alexis Arguello to make his way into the ring beat hanging out with my friends.

Just as my children and I were really starting to develop that father- son bond, Arguello's death really affected me.

And still does.

I look at the photos of Alexis Arguello, with me and my son David that I have hanging on the wall in my office, and I get a little sad.

You see, my dad never met my children, and I always find myself telling David and Danny stories about their grandfather.

I am always left feeling that it's hard for them to picture someone in their
mind who they never met.

As I take a closer look at the photos on the wall, a smile appears on my face, and I'm glad that I took little David to meet Arguello, several years ago.

I look at the photo of Alexis Arguello holding my son and I feel that there is at least one story about my dad which I can tell Little David about that he's actually a part of.

He was able to meet me and my dad's favorite boxer, Alexis Arguello!

My dad passed away in 1993. He committed suicide, which is why Arguello's death was very hard for me.

Especially, since it had become a tradition for me to drive to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in Canastota, NY, every year to see Arguello.

One of the things I admired most about Alexis Arguello was the respect he had for his opponents.

Many times when he knocked them out, he'd be the first to rush over to
them, concerned.

He would hug them after the fight and tell them he respected their effort.

Qualities like these were the reason that when my son David was 5 -years -old,
I took him to The Boxing Hall of Fame to meet Arguello.

I wanted my son to meet someone who was such an important part of my youth, just like my dad had shared with me.

Alexis shook my son's hand, picked him up, and took several photos with him. Arguello placed little David's hands in a typical fight pose. My son and I would go see Alexis every year, and each year Alexis Arguello would treat me and little David with respect and kindness.

My son Danny, was very small when little David met Arguello, but since Arguello passed, Danny knows who he is, as we watch his fight clips on the internet, and I have shown him my photos and magazines of Arguello.

In 2009, the year Alexis Arguello died, I was in an accident and could not attend the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Little did I know it would be my last chance to see Arguello.

Alexis Arguello was genuine and he was real.

In a world filled with overpaid, snobby athletes who turn away from fans and refuse to make a kid's day by signing an autograph, Alexis Arguello was a welcome change.

He was the people's champ.

He was a gentleman.

Thank you for the memories Champ!