MANAGUA – Nicaragua woke up Wednesday to the shocking news that boxing legend and Mayor of Managua Alexis Argüello, 58, is dead. Early unconfirmed reports are calling it suicide.
The three-time world boxing champ and born-again Sandinista allegedly shot himself in the early hours of the morning, according to early media reports. Investigators are awaiting the results of the autopsy.
The former boxing champ, who fought briefly against the first Sandinista government in the 1980s, joined the Sandinista Front in 2001 and served as Managua´s vice mayor for three years before renouncing his post to run for mayor in 2008.
Argüello told The Nica Times in an exclusive interview in December 2007 that he had been suicidal in the past. He said he would go on 20-day drug and alcohol binges when he was living in Miami after retiring from his boxing career in the 1990s.
Argüello, a humble and good-natured man with an infectious laugh, said God saved him from the “snake pit” of his addiction, and told him to get into politics to give something back to his country.
Yet since announcing his bid as mayor, Argüello had been subject to controversy, including his contested victory in the 2008 elections. The newspapers dubbed him “the mayor appointed by the Supreme Electoral Council,” and suggested that he was misusing municipal funds and not carrying through on projects that he had promised.
Argüello, who was capable of saying outrageous things, was always handled very closely by the Sandinista Front, which appointed a political administrator to run the mayor´s office, too.
First lady Rosario Murillo said Argüello, known as the “Gentleman of the Ring” and the “Explosive Thin Man,” will be remembered as “the Champion of Nicaragua.”