The Neutral Corner

Join Robert Cassidy with ringside seats in the world of Boxing.

New book on Alexis Arguello

This Feb. 9, 1986, file photo shows Billy

This Feb. 9, 1986, file photo shows Billy Costello, left, and Alexis Arguello during the fourth round of their super lightweight non-title match, in Reno, Nev. Costello, a former WBC light welterweight champion, died of lung cancer on June 29, 2011. He was 55. (Credit: AP)

There are many things the boxing public knows about Alexis Arguello. If you are looking for more, Christian Giudice's book, "Beloved Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Arguello," delivers it. Giudice will take you places in Arguello's life that you have never gone before.

Arguello, the hall-of-fame former champion, had a glorious career inside the ring. Outside of it, though, was quite another story. And Giudice brings you that story. From battling the demons of addiction, to his much-publicized war against the Sandinistas and finally to his controversial death, all of Arguello's life is examined here.

Particularly for the hardcore boxing fans, hearing from the trainers in who first began to shape the young fighter makes the early chapters an excellent read. In total, Giudice spent about 14 days in Nicaragua over the course of writing this book. It reads like he spent years there.

One thing that is clear, is that Arguello - nicknamed El Caballero del Ring -- "The Gentleman of the Ring" -- remained a gentleman long after he left boxing.

"When I met him in the hotel lobby," said Giudice. "He wouldn't just come up and greet you. He would ask you about your family. He would remember what you talked about the last time you spoke. He left behind a compassion and a generosity and class. This guy was hard not to love."

The initial meeting between author and subject took place in 2008 and Arguello was still campaigning to become mayor of Managua. The champion eventually became mayor, but it would seem that his life in politics ultimately led to his death. Arguello was aligned with Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, the same group he opposed during the 1980s.

The book really takes off in the final chapters when it deals with Arguello's death. On July 1, 2009, he died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Officially, the death has been ruled a suicide. Some people - including family members - believe he was assassinated. His wife, who was in the home at the time of his death, said it was a suicide.

Not long before his death, Arguello was in Puerto Rico where a boxing academy was named in his honor and he attended a tribute for Roberto Clemente. During the trip, he spent time with former featherweight champion Juan Laporte. Laporte told the Neutral Corner that Arguello seemed genuinely happy and that the two talked about plans for the future. He does not believe Arguello was capable of suicide. Back at home, the government announced it was restructuring the mayoral office, potentially diminishing Arguello's role.

In the book, Giudice explores all the theories. Arguello, stilled beloved by his countrymen, had threatened to resign his post as mayor, but that would have been a political catastrophe for the Sandinistas.

"My  opinion is that when he came home from Puerto Rico, as soon as he got back, he realized that he was marginalized," said Giudice. "He was furious. I just can't imagine how heartbreaking it was to him at that time. There was probably a part of him that could no longer take the fluctuation of the highs and lows in his life. If anyone knew how to back him into a corner it was the Sandinistas."

The book is published by Potomac Books and is 224 pages, harcover. This is Giudice's second boxing book. He previously penned a biography on Roberto Duran

Tags: Alexis Arguello , book review

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Boxing videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday