Nicaraguan-born former boxer Alexis Arguello is reportedly suing Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Sony in Los Angeles Superior Court over failing to secure his permission to use his likeness in two Knockout Kings titles.
According to the LA Times, EA allegedly failed to secure a licence to use Arguello's image in Knockout Kings 2000 and 2001. Nintendo and Sony have been named because the games were released on Nintendo 64, PSX and PlayStation 2. Latter day titles in the Knockout Kings series also appeared on GameCube and Xbox, but Arguello apparently didn't appear in either the 2002 or 2003 editions, hence the terms of the current suit.
Arguello, now 51 years old and retired, first heard of his appearance in Knockout Kings when a fan asked him to autograph a copy. He hasn't played the game, but according to the LA Times he wasn't all that impressed by the level of realism in the game. "My son called me from New York and he told me that he beat Mike Tyson with me in the game. I told him, 'In your dreams'," Arguello is quoted by the paper as saying.
Electronic Arts UK had yet to comment on the suit at the time of publishing, while Sony and Nintendo do not comment on pending litigation. It's a peculiar one though - EA is usually very hot on its licensing, as everyone knows, and for it to fail to secure permission to use a likeness in one of its prized sports titles is to our knowledge unprecedented.
Nevertheless, it may not be the last we hear of this issue, as Arguello's lawyer reportedly plans to file a similar suit on behalf of another boxer later in the week.
All in all we'd expect the publisher to be slightly embarrassed if this turns out to be true, particularly given the timing of the story. News of Arguello's lawsuit appeared on the same day that Fight Night 2004, the first title in its latest boxing franchise, went gold and started to ship in the USA. The game is due out in Europe on PS2 and Xbox this April 30th.