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Alexis Argüello

Alexis Argüello
Nickname(s) El Flaco Explosivo
("Skinny the Explosive")
El Caballero del Ring
("The Ring's Gentleman")
Rated at Featherweight
Super featherweight
Light welterweight
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Reach 72 in (183 cm)
Nationality Nicaraguan
Born (1952-04-19)April 19, 1952
Managua, Nicaragua
Died July 1, 2009(2009-07-01) (aged 57)
Managua, Nicaragua
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 96
Wins 88
Wins by KO 70
Losses 8

Alexis Argüello (April 19, 1952 – July 1, 2009), also known by the ring name El Flaco Explosivo (lit. "Skinny the Explosive"), was a Nicaraguan professional boxer and politician. As a boxer he was a three-weight world champion, having held the WBA featherweight title as well as the WBC super featherweight and lightweight titles. He has regularly been cited as one of the greatest fighters of his era, having never lost any of his world titles in the ring, instead relinquishing them each time in pursuit of titles in higher weight classes. After his retirement from boxing, Argüello became active in Nicaraguan politics and in November 2008 he was elected mayor of Managua, the nation's capital city.

Arguello is ranked 20th on The Ring magazine's list of "100 greatest punchers of all time" and was voted by the Associated Press in 1999 as the #1 junior lightweight of the 20th century.[1]


  • Boxing career 1
    • Battles with Aaron Pryor 1.1
    • Comeback and post-retirement 1.2
  • Political career 2
  • Death 3
  • Professional boxing record 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • Obituaries 8

Boxing career

"The Explosive Thin Man" suffered an unavenged first round TKO loss in his 1968 professional debut, but then won 36 of his next 38 bouts, which then led him to a world Featherweight championship bout against experienced WBA champion Ernesto Marcel of Panama in Panama. The young challenger lost a 15-round unanimous decision in Marcel's retirement bout.

Undaunted, Argüello began another streak of wins, and found himself in the ring with a world champion again, this time challenging Marcel's successor to the throne, Mexican world champion Rubén Olivares in Los Angeles. After Olivares built a small lead on the judges' scorecards, Argüello and Olivares landed simultaneous left hooks in round thirteen. Olivares's left hand caused a visible pain expression on Argüello's face, but Argüello's left hand caused Olivares to crash hard against the canvas. A few seconds later, Argüello was the new Featherweight champion of the world.

Argüello successfully defended this title four times, then moved up in weight to challenge world Junior Lightweight champion Alfredo Escalera in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, in what has been nicknamed The Bloody Battle of Bayamon by many. Escalera had been a busy champion with ten defenses, and he had dethroned Kuniaki Shibata in 2 rounds in Tokyo. In what some experts (including The Ring writers) consider one of the most brutal fights in history, Escalera had his eye, mouth and nose broken early, but was rallying back in the scorecards when Argüello finished him, once again in the thirteenth round.

His reign at Junior Lightweight saw him fend off the challenges of Escalera in a rematch held at Rimini, Italy, as well as former and future world champion Bobby Chacon, future two time world champion Rafael "Bazooka" Limón, Ruben Castillo, future champion Rolando Navarrete, and Diego Alcalá, beaten in only one round.

Argüello suffered many cuts around his face during his second victory against Escalera. The on-site doctor wanted him hospitalized, but Argüello had a flight to catch from Rome the next day to return to Nicaragua, and he boarded a train from Rimini. The doctor decided to travel with Argüello, and performed plastic surgery on Argüello's cuts with Argüello awake.

After eight successful title defenses, Argüello then moved up in weight again, and this time he had to go to London, England, to challenge world Lightweight champion Jim Watt. Watt lasted fifteen rounds, but the judges gave Argüello a unanimous 15-round decision, thus making him only the sixth boxer to win world titles in 3 divisions, and the second Latin American (after Wilfred Benítez had become the first by beating Maurice Hope one month before) to do it. He had to face some less known challengers in this division, one exception being the famous prospect Ray Mancini (known as "Boom Boom" Mancini) who would later be the subject of a made-for-television movie. Mancini and Argüello engaged in a fight that was later showcased in a boxing video of the best fights of the 1980s, with Argüello prevailing by stoppage when he decked Mancini in round 14. This fight was referenced in the Warren Zevon song "Boom Boom Mancini".

Battles with Aaron Pryor

Arguello successfully defended his lightweight title four times. After defeating James 'Bubba' Busceme by sixth round stoppage, Argüello decided to move up in weight class time again, and on November 12, 1982, he tried to become the first world champion in 4 different categories, meeting the heavier and future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Pryor, in what was billed as The Battle of the Champions in Miami, Florida. Argüello was stopped in the 14th round. The fight sparked controversy however, because Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis, introduced a second water bottle which he described as "the bottle I mixed" after round 13, leading to speculation that the bottle was tainted. The Florida State Boxing Commission failed to administer a post-fight urinalysis, adding to speculation that the bottle contained an unsanctioned substance.[2][3] It was later revealed in an interview with former Lewis-trained boxer Luis Resto that Lewis would break apart antihistamine pills used to treat asthma and pour the medicine into the water, giving Lewis's fighter greater lung capacity in the later rounds of a fight.[4][5][6] Others say that there was a mixture of cocaine, honey and orange juice in the bottle. [7]

A rematch was ordered. This time, in Las Vegas, Arguello was KO-ed in the tenth, and stated after the fight "I'm not going to fight anymore. I quit." But he later returned to the ring for financial reasons.

Comeback and post-retirement

During the 1980s Argüello briefly fought with the Contras in his native Nicaragua, but after a few months in the jungle he retired from the war.[8] He then attempted several comebacks into boxing during the late 1980s and early 1990s and had some success, most notably a fourth round stoppage of former World Junior Welterweight Champion Billy Costello in a 1986 televised bout that put him in a position for another shot at the Junior Welterweight title. He retired for good in 1995 with a record of 82 wins, 8 losses, and 65 KO's, along with the recognition of being one of the sports most universally respected fighters among fans, experts, and boxers.

Argüello was elected to the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 1992. In 2008 he was honored by being selected as Nicaragua's flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.[9]

Argüello was an avid breeder of cats, and had several articles published in Cat Fancy magazine throughout the 1990s.

He remained very friendly with his old rival Aaron Pryor, and the pair saw each other several times a year until Argüello's death.

Alexis Arguello was voted as the Greatest Junior Lightweight Ever by the Houston Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2014. The HBHOF is a voting body composed entirely of current and former fighters.

Political career

Argüello was actively involved in Nicaraguan politics with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)--the same party against whom he took up arms in the 1980s—and in 2004 was elected vice-mayor of Managua. Amid accusations of vote-rigging Argüello narrowly won the mayoral election in Managua on November 9, 2008[10] elections against the candidate of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, Eduardo Montealegre, who had come second to Daniel Ortega in the 2006 presidential election. Argüello's margin of victory was narrow as he attained just 51.30% of the vote.[11]


Memorial to Alexis Argüello in Managua

Argüello died around 1 a.m. local time on July 1, 2009, after allegedly shooting himself through the heart in Managua, according to a report from Channel 8 national television. Some reports at the time said there could have been some foul play involved, and he was killed by the highest echelons of the government.

The national police confirmed the death shortly afterwards, and the death was ruled a suicide following the autopsy.[12][13]

Those close to Argüello affirmed that he was becoming progressively disenchanted with the Orteguistas and the Sandinista government, and was planning an imminent departure from the Sandinista political party.[14]

Professional boxing record

88 Wins (70 Knockouts), 8 Defeats (4 Knockout), 0 Draws[15]
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Loss 88–8 Scott Walker UD 10 1995-01-21 Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 88–7 Jorge Palomares MD 10 1994-08-27 Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida
Win 87–7 Billy Costello TKO 4 (10), 1:42 1986-02-09 Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nevada
Win 86–7 Pat Jefferson TKO 5 (10), 2:47 1985-10-25 Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska
Loss 85–7 Aaron Pryor KO 10 (15), 1:48 1983-09-09 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada For The Ring & WBA World Light Welterweight titles.
Win 85–6 Claude Noel TKO 3 (10), 0:37 1983-04-24 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 84–6 Vilomar Fernandez UD 10 1983-02-26 Freeman Coliseum San Antonio, Texas
Loss 83–6 Aaron Pryor TKO 14 (15), 1:06 1982-11-12 Orange Bowl Stadium Miami, Florida For The Ring & WBA World Light Welterweight titles.
Proclaimed the "Fight of the Decade" by The Ring Magazine.
Win 83–5 Kevin Rooney KO 2 (10), 3:07 1982-07-31 Bally's Atlantic City Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 82–5 Andrew Ganigan KO 5 (15), 3:09 1982-05-22 The Aladdin Las Vegas, Nevada Retained The Ring & WBC World Lightweight titles.
Win 81–5 James Busceme TKO 6 (15), 2:35 1982-02-13 Beaumont Civic Center Beaumont, Texas Retained The Ring & WBC World Lightweight titles.
Win 80–5 Roberto Elizondo KO 7 (15), 3:07 1981-11-21 Bally's Atlantic City Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained The Ring & WBC World Lightweight titles.
Win 79–5 Ray Mancini TKO 14 (15), 1:44 1981-10-03 Showboat Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada Retained The Ring & WBC World Lightweight titles.
Win 78–5 Jim Watt UD 15 1981-06-20 Empire Pool Wembley, London Won The Ring & WBC World Lightweight titles.
Win 77–5 Robert Vasquez TKO 3 (10), 2:55 1981-02-07 Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida
Win 76–5 José Luis Ramírez SD 10 1980-11-14 Jai Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida
Win 75–5 Cornelius Boza Edwards TKO 8 (10) 1980-08-09 Superstar Theatre, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 74–5 Rolando Navarrete TKO 5 (15) 1980-04-27 Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 73–5 Gerald Hayes UD 10 1980-03-31 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 72–5 Ruben Castillo TKO 11 (15), 2:03 1980-01-20 Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, Arizona Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 71–5 Bobby Chacon TKO 7 (15) 1979-11-16 Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 70–5 Rafael Limón TKO 11 (15), 1:40 1979-07-08 Felt Forum, New York City, New York Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 69–5 Alfredo Escalera KO 13 (15), 1:24 1979-02-04 Sports Palace, Rimini, Emilia Romagna Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 68–5 Arturo Leon UD 15 1978-11-10 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Loss 67–5 Vilomar Fernandez MD 10 1978-07-26 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win 67–4 Diego Alcala KO 1 (15), 1:56 1978-06-03 Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Hato Rey Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 66–4 Rey Tam TKO 5 (15), 1:54 1978-04-29 Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California Retained WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 65–4 Mario Mendez TKO 3 (10) 1978-03-25 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 64–4 Alfredo Escalera TKO 13 (15), 2:56 1978-01-28 Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, San Juan Won WBC World Super Featherweight title.
Win 63–4 Enrique Solis KO 5 1977-12-18 Managua
Win 62–4 Jerome Artis TKO 2 (10) 1977-09-29 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win 61–4 Benjamin Ortiz UD 10 1977-08-27 Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Hato Rey
Win 60–4 José Fernández TKO 1 (10), 2:06 1977-08-03 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win 59–4 Ezequiel Cocoa Sanchez TKO 4 (10) 1977-06-22 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win 58–4 Alberto Herrera KO 1 (10) 1977-05-14 Managua
Win 57–4 Godfrey Stevens KO 2 (10) 1977-02-19 Managua
Win 56–4 Salvador Torres KO 3 (15), 1:25 1976-06-19 Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California Retained The Ring & WBA World Featherweight titles.
Win 55–4 Modesto Concepcion KO 2 (10) 1976-04-10 Managua
Win 54–4 José Torres SD 10 1976-02-01 Mexicali, Baja California
Win 53–4 Saul Montana KO 3 1975-12-20 Managua
Win 52–4 Royal Kobayashi KO 5 (15), 2:47 1975-10-12 Kokugikan, Tokyo Retained The Ring & WBA World Featherweight titles.
Win 51–4 Rosalio Muro KO 2 (10), 2:54 1975-07-18 Cow Palace, Daly City, California
Win 50–4 Rigoberto Riasco TKO 2 (15), 2:00 1975-05-31 Estadio Flor de Cana, Granada Retained WBA & Won vacant The Ring World Featherweight titles.
Win 49–4 Leonel Hernández TKO 8 (15) 1975-03-15 Poliedro de Caracas, Caracas Retained WBA World Featherweight title.
Win 48–4 Oscar Aparicio UD 10 1975-02-08 Nuevo Poliedro, San Salvador
Win 47–4 Rubén Olivares KO 13 (15), 1:20 1974-11-23 Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California Won WBA World Featherweight title.
Win 46–4 Otoniel Martinez KO 1 1974-09-21 Estadio Roberto Clemente, Masaya
Win 45–4 Oscar Aparicio UD 12 1974-08-24 Estadio Roberto Clemente, Masaya
Win 44–4 Art Hafey UD 12 1974-05-18 Estadio Roberto Clemente, Masaya
Win 43–4 Enrique Garcia KO 3 1974-04-27 Arena Kennedy, Managua
Loss 42–4 Ernesto Marcel UD 15 1974-02-16 Gimnasio Nuevo Panama,, Panama City For WBA World Featherweight title.
Win 42–3 Raul Martinez Mora KO 1 1974-01-12 Estadio Roberto Clemente, Masaya
Win 41–3 José Legrá KO 1 (10) 1973-11-24 Estadio Roberto Clemente, Masaya

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Reflections on Lewis-Tyson -
  3. ^ Interview with Aaron Pryor - Boxing Monthly
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Adrift in a Sea of Choices", Sports Illustrated, October 21, 1985
  9. ^ "Alexis Arguello to bear Nicaraguan flag in Beijing Olympics", Xinhua, July 9, 2008
  10. ^ The Independent Newspaper (London) Obituary of Alexis Argüello July 17, 2009
  11. ^ "La Prensa Election Section" November 11, 2008
  12. ^ El Nuevo Diario - Muere Alexis Argüello
  13. ^ "Boxer Argüello Found Dead", Associated Press via Yahoo News (July 1, 2009)
  14. ^
  15. ^ Alexis Argüello's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2012-05-12.

External links

  • Professional boxing record for Alexis Argüello from BoxRec
  • Biofile interview with Alexis Arguello
  • Aladdin Freeman's BraggingRights Interview With Arguello 2004
  • On June 26, 2009 in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Argúello placed flowers at a monument for Roberto Clemente to honor the late baseball great. Video on YouTube
  • La Prensa - police statement


  • Daily Telegraph
Preceded by
Rubén Olivares
WBA Featherweight Champion
November 23, 1974–1977
Title next held by
Rafael Ortega
Title last held by
Clemente Sanchez
The Ring Featherweight Champion
May 31, 1975 - June 20, 1977
Title next held by
Danny Lopez
Preceded by
Alfredo Escalera
WBC Super Featherweight Champion
January 28, 1978–1980
Title next held by
Edwin Rosario
Preceded by
Jim Watt
WBC Lightweight Champion
June 20, 1981–1983
Title next held by
Edwin Rosario
The Ring Lightweight Champion
June 20, 1981 – February 1983
Title next held by
Julio César Chávez
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