Several years ago I started a foundation called, Golpes y Libros or "Punches and Books" with the goal of bringing books and boxing equipment to gyms throughout Central America. On a small scale we helped Panama gyms, but we did not accomplish what we had set out to do. Now, nearly a decade later, our focus and mission has changed. Equipment fulfills a need, but an education ensures knowledge and direction for young boxers with short shelf lives in the sport. The majority of boxers sacrifice an education for the ring, because training becomes their livelihood. No longer a priority, boxers eschew their studies, take one or two classes, but rarely return to finish their education. It is a sad reality of young athletes throughout these countries.
Why should they concern themselves with their studies when a trainer or manager is whispering in their ears about a future in the sport? Most have to wake up at 7 am to begin a rigorous training regime that lasts late into the afternoon. To them, they are following a dream. Unfortunately, that same boxer wakes up at age 26 retired and with no discernible option. If many will argue that the main issue with the sport is the absence of a pension for retired boxers or an oversight committee, I would counter that - The lack of an education leaves a lot of these fighters broken. Golpes y Libros yearns to take small steps to help fill in the gaps of this problem...
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New biography of Alexis Argüello looks at the brilliant boxing career and tragic political career of Nicaragua's most beloved athlete
By Silvio Sirias, July 31, 2012
Prior to 1974, Nicaragua had never had a world champion - in any sport. That all changed on Nov. 23, 1974, when, at the Inglewood Forum, Alexis Argüello knocked out Rubén Olivares in the thirteenth round to win the WBA featherweight crown. For Nicaraguans everywhere, it was a glorious moment that still, almost forty years later, stands near the pinnacle of national pride.
That fight also marked the beginning of Argüello's long reign in the boxing world -12 years in which he also won the super-featherweight and the lightweight titles. Although only true boxing fans remember him today, Nicaraguans everywhere carry Alexis in their hearts.
Christian Giudice's Beloved Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Argüello, does a splendid job of chronicling the Nicaraguan's boxing career. The task of providing an account of each of Alexis's bouts - there were 63 of them - represents a formidable trial for any writer. Falling into the abyss of repetitiousness is an ever-present danger. But Giudice rises to the challenge, describing the circumstances surrounding each contest in prose so lucid that flurries of punches often jump off
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” I did this with my bare hands.”
- Alexis Argüello
When I decided to write this book, I thought about what Alexis Argüello’s legacy would be. Would he be remembered as a classic boxer who patiently bided his time before releasing that devastating straight right or left hook? Would people remember him as the exiled Nicaraguan boxer who unfairly had his Nicaraguan family and freedom stolen from him? Or, in the end, would people remember him as a man who, in the final years of his life, resurrected himself in the face of adversity? Those types of questions haunted thousands immediately after the news of his death on July 1, 2009.
Alexis Argüello had silenced the demons that burdened him for so long. So when I traveled to Nicaragua one last time, I needed to hear the truth from his people: What happened to this heroic figure? The people evoked two emotional responses: one tinged with pent-up rage; the other, a forced silence. Often, those who refused to talk revealed more by what they didn’t say than what they did reveal. Beloved Warrior was ultimately written to give a voice to a man who no longer had one. By the time he passed, Alexis had been silenced. What did he have left? People needed to know how the fighter lived his life away from the ring. People needed to know that Alexis Argüello
As former trainer Carlos Varela so eloquently put it: “I will remember him as a humble guy who put all his efforts and talent into being a champion. He always loved the people of Nicaragua and they loved him back.”
They did love him back. It was an unconditional love that intensified after a decade of exile. Imagine having to part with a hero in the prime of his life. Imagine what Alexis and his people felt – how painful it was – to say goodbye to the man at the pinnacle of his sport. Psychologically, the forced chasm was devastating. So when Alexis passed in 2009, the people were forced, again, to say goodbye to a fighter that represented everything that they stood for – love, affection, class, dignity, and, most of all, loyalty.
In Beloved Warrior, I hoped to remind these people – in Nicaragua and the U.S. – why they loved Alexis Argüello so intensely. I hoped to remind them of each moment that Alexis treated them like family. To me, that kindness was his legacy. No matter who you were, he made you feel like you meant something. It was never pretense; with Alexis, it was always real. I hope, for you the reader, that Beloved Warrior will recapture Alexis’s moments of glory and, once again, remind you why you never stopped thinking about him.