Roman denies the
charges. "I tried to put money in places where he wouldn't touch it,"
he says. "Alexis didn't lose all that money—he spent it. Nothing was done
without his or his wife's signature. They are responsible. I never arranged any
loan. He never asked my advice about buying all those houses—he just bought
them. I thought of Alexis as my son. If he loved me like a father, how could he
let his new lawyers accuse me of all this without the courtesy of calling me
and letting me explain it all to him? How?"
By then, the IRS
was threatening to impound everything Arguello owned. Each time his new
advisers told him what they believed Roman had done to him, he struggled not to
cry. "I do not blame him," he whispers. "I cannot. He made me
someone." He did not believe Roman had wronged him, he did not want to sue.
He refused to declare bankruptcy, insisting on paying off every creditor.
42-year-old Landon K. Thorne III, a commanding officer of a U.S. Marines
antitank reserve unit who had become Arguello's new financial adviser, called
Alexis in and unloaded the latest bad news. "You owe the IRS $580,000,"
he told him. "Your houses—gone. Your office—gone. Your cars—gone. Your
yacht—gone. You will have to sell everything to pay off the IRS. You have
nothing, Alexis, nothing."
For the second
time in his life, Arguello had been financially devastated. First it had been
by his fatherland. This time, people were telling him, it was by the man he
loved like a father. But now he was retired from boxing and could find no work
that made him feel passion. He found that every insecurity inside him burst
from its camouflage like a gunshot-startled flock of doves.
You could box
again, a voice inside him said. And the flock of insecurities began flapping
frantically, scratching and biting. He had entered the ring once as an
impromptu fund-raising gesture for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in
Columbus, Ohio, pulling off his shirt and going in in his bare feet and tuxedo
pants. Before he knew it, his eyes had hardened and focused in the old way, and
he had become so serious that his opponent, the 1984 light welterweight Olympic
gold medalist, Jerry Page, had left the ring.
"How did it
feel, Alexis?" a radio man asked.
brings back memories."
A month later, he
was doing cable TV color commentary for a junior middleweight bout in Detroit
between David Braxton and Reggie Miller. Braxton, far more experienced, was
tattooing Miller, but the kid had the crowd roaring with his ability to
respond. Suddenly, the sight of one human beating another snapped something
inside Arguello. He tore off his headset and ran up to the apron, screaming,
"Stop the fight! Stop the fight!"