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Argentine Fighter Wins $1 Million in NYC, Won’t Bring Prize Money Home

Jonathan Gilbert

(Bloomberg) -- Emiliano “He-Man” Sordi, an Argentine martial arts fighter, won a $1 million purse in New York City. If he has his way, that’s just where the money will stay.

“I’m not going to be so stupid as to take even one dollar back to Argentina,” Sordi wrote Thursday on Twitter after battering Jordan Johnson into submission to win the Professional Fighters League’s light heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden.

Read More: Hottest Job in Argentina Is Helping the 1% Hide Their Cash Abroad

Many Argentines stash their savings outside the country, upwards of $300 billion according to government figures, because they’ve lost heavily during past crises in the troubled South American nation. In the late 1980s there was hyperinflation, and in the early 2000s the government turned dollar savings into pesos at an unfavorable exchange rate. More recently, there have been sudden currency devaluations.

Sordi, 28, said in a television interview that the uncertainty -- and the prospect of taxes as high as 50% -- made him want to keep his prize in the U.S. Efforts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful.

The fighter, who is 6-foot-2, about 205 pounds and sports the requisite complement of tattoos, has a record of 22 wins and eight losses. Growing up in Rio Cuarto, his father was a lathe operator and money was short -- when he began training he had to borrow gloves. Now, he splits his time between Argentina and San Diego, California.

Mariano Sardans, founder of wealth management firm FDI in Buenos Aires, said in an interview that Sordi may be obliged to bring the dollars home and face an unfavorable exchange rate and taxes. President Alberto Fernandez has tightened currency controls to stem capital flight and increased export taxes to boost fiscal revenues.

“They talk about socialism but with other people’s money,” Sordi said on television. “It’s really easy that way.”

--With assistance from Jorgelina do Rosario.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Gilbert in Buenos Aires at jgilbert63@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Stephen Merelman, Robert Jameson

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