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Tragedy Unfolds Of Argentine Boxer Accused Of Homicide

February 20, 1988 GMT

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ A tragedy is unfolding in Argentina and it has nothing to do with the nation’s teetering economy or the latest military revolt.

The story involves Carlos Monzon, the dark-haired idol to millions who rose from being a shoeshine boy to become Argentina’s greatest boxer, the world middleweight champion from 1970 until his retirement in 1977.

Monzon, 45, has been charged with the death Sunday of his estranged lover during a fight in which she fell from the second-story of an apartment in the coastal resort of Mar del Plata, 250 miles south of this capital.

The results on an autopsy Thursday showed Alicia Muniz, 32, whose skull was crushed in the head-first fall, had been strangled to the point of unconsciouness before tumbling from the balcony. Their 6-year-old son was asleep in the next room at the time.

″I beat all my women, except one, and nothing ever happened to any of them,″ local news agencies quoted Monzon as saying in his defense.

A judge has ordered a psychiatric exam of Monzon, who suffered two broken ribs and a broken clavicle during the fight. Monzon is being held incommunicado in a Mar del Plata police commissary.

About 500 people flocked to the apartment Tuesday when Monzon, his torso swathed in bandages, reconstructed for police the events of an evening he says is fuzzy because he was drinking. ″Murderer 3/8″ yelled some. ″Champion 3/8″ yelled others.

Police say he may be both. The former boxing champion faces up to 25 years in prison on a charge of homicide.

His detractors include the victim’s mother, who has charged Monzon threatened to kill her daughter many times before. His defenders include two sons, Abel and Carlos. Monzon also has an older daughter - he is a grandfather -and young Maximiliano.

Maximiliano, a wide-eyed boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father, has since interviewed on television, saying, ″I miss my mother.″ He is staying with an uncle, Alicia Muniz’s brother.

The reporting on the case has been competitvely furious. Psychologists have written articles urging young Maximiliano be told the full events of the death of his mother.

Friends and foes also have been interviewed, as well as neighbors and people on the street. The Monzon case has been front-page news in all the newspapers and magazines.

Some chronicle his rise to fame as a story of a boxer gone awry. ″The history is simple,″ Gente weekly magazine wrote of Monzon on Thursday. ″He had been at one time a man who lived with his closed fists. His business was violence ... he became an idol.

″Perhaps because of this, intoxicated by it all, he didn’t understand that death is not a game, that you can’t resurrect a life after 15 rounds,″ Gente magazine said.

″There are many who want to dirty the image of papa,″ Abel Monzon, 23, said this week. ″But of this we are sure. Papa, our papa, is not a murderer.″

Monzon rose from humble beginnings as one of 12 children in Santa Fe, shining shoes, selling newspapers and lugging sides of beef in a meat-packing plant.

But the incident that resulted in the death of the attractive Muniz, whom he met in 1978 on a flight to Europe, wasn’t Monzon’s first touch with violence outside the ring.

Monzon was charged with striking a photographer at a Christmas party in 1967, injuring the man’s eye. On three other occasions, he has been charged with beating men in fights, once at his mother-in-law’s house, another at a discoteque and at a casino.

During his illustrious ring career, he also fought with what the media here calls ″his women.″ Those included his wife, two women who also were called wives but with whom he never married, and short-lived affairs with several actresses, including Ursula Andress.

Police said his wife, Marcela ″Pelusa″ Beatriz, whom he married at age 19, required eight stitches to close a cut above her right eye when she made a remark at a family dinner about Monzon’s longtime girlfriend, Argentine actress Susana Gimenez.

In February 1973, police said Monzon was shot in the arm and shoulder but not seriously injured during an argument with his wife in the family home in Santa Fe, 250 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

They eventually separated but not before she brought charges of wife beating, citing an incident in which police said he punched her at their son’s birthday party, that resulted in a six-month jail term.

Monzon pleaded momentary insanity and was pardoned but because of his behavior he was denied a visa in August 1976 to visit the United States.

″Carlos is a great champion but as a person he isn’t the same as what the cameras show,″ Mrs. Monzon has said.

Monzon gave up boxing at the urging of his then-girlfriend Susana Gimenez, with whom he eventually separated after a tempestuous relationship.

″Starting tomorrow, I’m just one more ordinary citizen and I won’t have anymore responsibilities,″ Monzon said upon retirement in 1977. He had a career record of 89-3-8, including 14 title defense fights.

Since his retirement from the ring, Monzon has appeared in two Argentine movies, modeled professionally, purchased real estate and was preparing to promote a line of sports clothing bearing his name.

Monzon apparently invested his earnings well, earnings that before his retirement were a half-million dollars per fight, not including television rights.

He owns property throughout Argentina and last week flew to France to appear on a Paris television show featuring boxing greats. That may be his final trip abroad for many years.

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