One day a few
months ago, in Coral Gables, Arguello jumped from his seat in the office of
friend and lawyer John Spittler (who replaced Roman as trustee of his finances
before Thorne came aboard) and shouted, "I can do it! I can box again.
Watch this!"—and threw a vicious right at the wall, leaving a crater with
an outline of each knuckle.
Another day in
Spittler's office he had dropped to his knees and clutched the lawyer's hand.
"Don't make me fight again," he sobbed. "Please, don't make me
In 1984, when
Alexis Arguello was 32, he sat on his boat in the ocean one morning and stared
down the black shaft of a loaded automatic pistol. It was as good a place as
any to die.
A.J. sat across
from him, crying, begging him not to do it. Arguello cried too, saying that he
must. There was no other sound except the ocean lapping at the boat, on which
was painted THE CHAMP.
from the contradiction of his life, the way it lurched between opposites. Could
it be that the distance between opposites was—nothing? So much seemed
incomprehensible. No cause was pure, no motive clean, no external thing could
be trusted. Everything a man needed to believe in in order to feel secure, life
could rub his face again and again until he understood its opposite might also
No resolution is
possible in this life, a voice suggested. No, he cried—as long as he held this
gun to his head, one resolution was possible.
"Don't do it,
Dad!" pleaded A.J.
He looked at the
boy for a long time. Twelve years before, on a humid night when A.J. was an
infant, Arguello had felt a sudden urge to sleep next to his firstborn. A few
hours later an earthquake ravaged Managua. The roof and walls in the room where
Arguello normally slept collapsed upon the empty bed. Arguello laid down the
Arguello is back
in boxing, with a bout in Anchorage this week, but he is no longer boxing for a
cause. He is boxing for himself and his family. To say this chokes his soul,
but a soul can be ambushed only so many times before it demands armor.
thought we all were brothers," he says. "I thought the world was a
beautiful place. It's a lie. Everyone is selfish. Now I care nothing for the
world. It makes me feel selfish to say it, but people made me that way. I hate
politics, I hate industry, I hate governments...I hate it..."