Photos: Gabriel F. Cordero
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Boxing leaders have issued statements after hearing the news on the passing of three-division world champion and 1992 International Boxing Hall of Fame member Alexis Arguello.
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank: “We at Top Rank are very saddened to learn about the death of Alexis Arguello. Alexis was one of the world’s greatest fighters and champions. More importantly, he was a real man, a true gentleman and a loyal friend. He will be greatly missed.”
Six-time world champion Oscar de la Hoya: “I felt sad receiving the news and still find it hard to believe. Alexis [Arguello] was my idol. When I was young, I heard so much about him and his fights and loved his style in the ring. In my opinion he was of the biggest and most influential fighter boxing has ever produced. I remember he came to my fight against Steve Forbes and we shared some great moments together before and after the fight. Arguello was definitely a legend in the boxing world because of all the joy he brought to his fans with his unforgettable career and amazing personality.”
WBC President Jose Sulaiman: “The World Boxing Council declares today, July 1, a day of world mourning due to the tragic passing away of our former champion and International Ambassador, Alexis Arguello, who passed away in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua. Arguello was paid an extraordinary homage by the WBC at the United Nations in New York in 1983, when the 20th anniversary of our organization was held. Subsequently in Las Vegas, he was inducted into the WBC Hall of Fame, together with 20 of the greatest champions of our organization. Alexis was featherweight, super featherweight, and lightweight champion, and was named our International Ambassador when he visited Cancun during the Night of Champions, which was attended by 96 world champions.
“The Nicaraguan superstar is, without a doubt, absolutely one of the greatest Latin American fighters and world champions of all times. He is also recalled as an exemplary person who fell into the clutches of drugs, just to rise as the great champion he was and show himself as an example, and obtained the Mayoralty of his beloved Managua. In the ring, Alexis was a tremendous puncher, a brave fighter like only a few have been. He fought from 1968 to 1995, and in that span he won 64 times by knockout, 16 by points, and lost only eight of his bouts. May such a great fighter rest in peace!”
Gilberto Jesús Mendoza, WBA Executive Vice President: “Early morning news confirming Alexis Arguello’s sudden death has shocked every member of worldwide boxing community, especially to the directorate of this organization. His boxing record speaks for itself as probably one of the best junior lightweights of the all times. In the ring, he had victories over tough world champions like: Ruben Olivares, Royal Kobayashi, Alfredo Escalera, Rolando Navarrete, Jim Watt, Claude Noel, Ray Mancini, Jose Luis Ramirez, Bobby Chacon. In each triumph dedicated to his home country Nicaragua demonstrated heart, skill, and intelligence. While many nicknamed him the “Explosive Thin Man” we considered him as “the gentleman of the ring”. Even in his defeats he showed his sportsmanship attitude congratulating his rivals, most to our memories his words to Aaron Pryor who took away his dream to become a fourth time world champion.
“Outside the ring had pitfalls but his ethics combined with perseverance and heart made him overcome any obstacle during all his life. He played several roles in boxing and as boxing judge, but contributed more to his country serving as trainer and advisor being part of the development of world champions Roman Gonzalez (minimum) and Jose Alfaro (lightweight). Most recently achieved by far his most important position beyond sports; he won the elections to become mayor of the city of Managua. It was the beginning of a new battle the he could only succeed with his humbleness, social sense and cleverness serving his fellows native Nicaraguans. I was even lucky to witness his work escorting him through several social activities and more pleasing receiving the key of the city from the own hands of one of my boxing idols. By the way a great honor in my life.
“His physical disappearance is one of the toughest moments that I ever had to write about a great champion but more important friends like “el flaco” Alexis. The last time we had a chance to share was on March in Panama Tocumen Airport where we met when he was on his way to Peru to receive a well deserved recognition by the sports authority of this country and I was returning to Venezuela with my oldest son Alfredo Jose.
“His last words towards me are coming back and forth in my mind “La bendicion para el Viejo mi hermanito, cuidate” in English “God bless your old man, take care.” Now partially speechless I just will add myself along with my colleagues in WBA directorate to pray for him and may god keep his soul in heaven as he truly was a champion in all the meaning of word.”