In Remembrance of an All-Time Great
Alexis Arguello, known commonly as the “The Explosive Thin Man”, was a politician, and a former boxer. As a boxer Arguello was one of the first boxers to be a champion through three weight classes. After his retirement he was elected as the mayor of Managua, the Nicaraguan capital city and served as a representative for the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Arguello suffered an un-avenged first round TKO loss in 1968 during his professional debut. “The Explosive Thin Man,” went on to win his 36 of his next 38 fights, which led him to a featherweight title shot. Arguello stepped into the ring against Ernesto Marcel of Panama. The young Arguello lost a 15 round unanimous decision in Marcel’s retirement bout.
With Arguello undaunted, he began another streak of wins, and found himself climbing into the ring to battle another champion. This champion, Ruben Olivares, was the successor to Marcel’s retirement. After Olivares built a small lead on the judges’ scorecards, Arguello and Olivares exchanged several brutal left hooks in round thirteen. Olivares hurt his hand during the round, and Arguello sent Olivares crashing quickly to the canvas with a hard left to the head. Alexis Arguello scored the TKO and became the newly crowned WBA featherweight champion.
Alexis made numerous title defenses, and then moved up in weight to challenge junior lightweight champion Alfredo Escalera in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The fight was nicknamed “The Bloody Battle of Bayamon” by many spectators and enthusiasts. Escalera had been a busy champion with ten defenses, and he had dethroned Kuniaki Shibata in 2 rounds in Tokyo. It was what some experts including Ring Magazine considered one of the most brutal and bloody fights in history of boxing; Escalera had his eye, mouth and nose busted up early in the fight. Escalera managed to hold his own, and fought back into the scorecards before Arguello finished him off in the thirteenth round.
“The Explosive Thin Man’s” reign as Junior Lightweight champion saw him scare off all challengers en route to a Escalera rematch held in Italy. Alexis suffered many cuts around his face during his second victory against Escalera. The doctor on-site wanted Alexis hospitalized, but Arguello had a plane to catch from Rome the next day to Nicaragua. The doctor decided to travel with Arguello, and he preformed plastic surgery on Arguello’s cuts, with Alexis’ awake.
His super featherweight career continued with a string of great performances, including victories over Rafael Limon, Bobby Chacon and Ruben Castillo. “The Thin Man” then bounced up in weight again to challenge world lightweight champion Jim Watt. Watt lasted 15 rounds, but the judges gave the unanimous decision to Arguello. With this win, Arguello became only the sixth boxer to win world titles in 3 divisions. Alexis went on to face some challengers in the division including the famous Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Their match would later be made into a television movie. Arguello won the match by a stoppage of the fourteenth round; when he knocked Mancini out.
Alexis Arguello VS Aaron Pryor
Arguello decided to move up in weight again. On November 12, 1982, he tried to become the first world champion in 4 different weight classes. Arguello met the heavier future hall of famer Aaron Pryor. Arguello was stopped in the fourteenth round, and a controversy immediately erupted. The specific water bottle sketchily requested by trainer Panama Lewis which Pryor drank from before the start of the fourteenth round was in the middle of the firestorm. Because the newly created Miami Boxing Commission had neglected to conduct a post-fight urinalysis, a rematch was ordered. This time the fight was held in Las Vegas, and Arguello was KO’ed in the tenth round. Alexis Arguello stated after the rematch, “I’m not going to fight anymore. I quit.” But later Alexis Arguello returned to the ring because of financial difficulties.
Comeback and Post-Retirement
During the mid 1980’s, Arguello enlisted in the armed forces (Contras) in his native Nicaragua. But after a few months in the jungle he retired from war. He then attempted several comebacks into the boxing scene during the late 1980’s and 1990’s. He scored a notable fourth round stoppage of former world Junior Welterweight champion Billy Costello. Arguello finally retired for good in 1995, with a record of 82 wins, 8 losses, and 65 KO’s. He was recognized of being one of the sport’s most universally respected fighters among fans, experts and boxers. To this day he remains perhaps the best 130 pound fighter in the history of the sport.
Alexis Arguello was actively involved in Nicaraguan politics with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (the same party against whom he took arms in the 1980’s). In 2004 Arguello was elected Vice Mayor of Managua. Arguello ran for Mayor of Managua in November 9, 2008 elections against the candidate of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party. Eduardo Montealegre, who came in second to Daniel Ortega in the 2006 Presidential election. Alexis Arguello was the winner of the election with a 51.30% of the vote, although there were rumors of corruption.
Alexis “The Explosive Thin Man” Arguello died around 1:00am local time on July 1, 2009. He allegedly shot himself through the heart according to a report from channel 4 news. Reports now say there could have been some foul play involved and the evidence seems to be pointing in the direction of murder. The National Police have confirmed the death, but are still awaiting the results from the autopsy.