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ADRIFT IN A SEA OF CHOICES
Gary Smith
October 21, 1985
Alexis Arguello once considered suicide as an escape from the contradictions and ambiguities that filled a rich life with betrayal and despair
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October 21, 1985

Adrift In A Sea Of Choices

Alexis Arguello once considered suicide as an escape from the contradictions and ambiguities that filled a rich life with betrayal and despair

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He had come here seeking shelter from life. In the two years since he had retired he had gone from being a millionaire to virtual bankruptcy. He had lost his family, battled drugs and ducked Sandinista bullets in Nicaragua. He had broken with his manager and spiritual father in Miami. Nowhere away from boxing could he find the thing his father had ached for—a refuge from contradiction.

He's returning for the money—he's broke—sneered the media. No, he's returning for immortality, to become the first man ever to win titles in four weight classes, insisted the people close to him. They, too, were uncomfortable with the reality that all human motive is a mosaic of desires and needs.

The most confused of all was Arguello.

"Material things are not important," he told a visitor. "You are important! We are important! That little girl over there. That man on the bike. Why can't people see that? I don't need money. I can pump gas. I can make plenty of money doing appearances for Miller Lite."

His hands flailed the air. He grabbed his visitor's wrist, spittle spraying from his lips. "It's history, man. I want to win four! It's an adventure. That's why I'm coming back."

A few moments later: "Boxing is the only thing I know how to do. I like nice things, nice cars. How can I generate the money? I kick some ass, right?"

And then: "I don't know why, but I feel fulfilled when I'm boxing. I think I am a reincarnated gladiator.

"...Oh, God, what else can I do? I don't want to be a doper. I don't want to poison the world."

Outside the boxing ring, Arguello's life was full of such fluctuation. Feelings ruled him, they jerked him first down one path, and then down its opposite.

One night years ago, when he was 27, Arguello was hunting in Nicaragua with a friend and a flashlight. He loved animals. He loved to shoot them for sport in the forest, and he loved to hold them in his arms at home. Never did he see the contradiction.

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