When you hear the name Alexis Arguello, how do you remember the late champion?
Do you remember him as El Flaco Explosivo (The explosive skinny man) or as El Caballero del Ring (The gentleman of the ring)?
You may remember him for his explosive punching power and speed. Or for his meekness and generosity in and out of the ring.
You cannot separate either from him. He personified both sides.
Sometimes it's hard imagining a ferocious fighter with a soft heart; a bomb throwing power-puncher with a sincere smile. Arguello would destroy an opponent and then embrace him afterward, apologizing for inflicting so much punishment.
At the start of his professional career, Arguello was no stranger to determination. He suffered a first round TKO in his debut in 1968.
Bent on continuing and not giving up, he triumphed by winning 36 of his next 38 fights. Such an impressive winning streak put him in line to face Featherweight champion Ernesto Marcel.
This was his first title bout. He lost the decision to Marcel in an impressive performance. Despite his loss, he continued and later got another shot against Marcel's successor, Ruben Olivares.
Olivares was ahead on the judges' scorecards in round thirteen when both fighters threw left hooks simultaneously.
Both hooks were packed with power, but Arguello's hook sent Olivares to the canvas. Then, after a few moments, Arguello was the new Featherweight champion of the world.
Out of respect, he went to Olivares' dressing room after the bout and got down on his knees and said, “I will defend this title with every drop of my blood.”
He was known and respected as a true sportsman. He went to the ring, did what he needed to do, then thanked his opponents for the great opportunity.
There are not many boxers I can think of who showed as much sportsmanship and humility as Arguello.
Thus, when the name Arguello is mentioned, I have to dub him “The Iron Fist With The Velvet Glove.”