Tapia's 'crazy life' is over
Five-time world champion Johnny Tapia has died at his house in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
News of his death came a day after it was reported that Thailand’s IBF junior featherweight contender Thangtong Kiattaweesuk, his wife and two nephews had been killed in a car crash.
The Albuquerque Journal has reported, quoting a family source, that police were called to Tapia's house on Sunday evening by a family member who had found a body there.
Police spokesman Robert Gibbs said the death did not appear suspicious and an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause of death.
Tapia, 45, was known for his battles with cross-town rival Danny Romero, Paulie Ayala and Marco Antonio Barrera.
In 2007, Tapia was hospitalised after an apparent drug overdose.
While he was in hospital, two members of his family – his brother-in-law and a nephew – were killed in a road accident.
Tapia, whose battles with addiction led to several brushes with the law, retired with a professional record of 59 wins, five losses, two draws an 30 knockout victories.
His last fight ended in a points victory over eight rounds against Mauricio Pastrana in Albuquerque in June last year.
CRAZY LIFE OF JOHNNY TAPIA
RON JACKSON writes that John Lee Tapia was born in Albuquerque on February 13, 1967.
He had an outstanding amateur career and won the 1983 national Golden Gloves light-flyweight title. In 1985 he was flyweight champion.
He made his professional debut on March 25, 1988 and went on to win the WBO super-flyweight and bantamweight titles, the WBA bantamweight belt and the IBF super-flyweight and featherweight titles.
Among the top fighters he faced were Paulie Ayala, Marco Antonio Barrera, Danny Romero, Henry Martinez, Rolando Bohol, Manuel Medina and Ricardo Vargas.
Tapia’s father was murdered when his mother was pregnant with him. When he was eight years old his mother was kidnapped, raped, hanged, repeatedly stabbed and left for dead.
The little boy was woken by her screams and he saw her chained to the back of a pick-up truck. She was later found by the police and taken to hospital, but she died four days later.
In 1990, Tapia’s boxing career came to a halt when he was tested positive for cocaine and banned for three and a half years.
He returned in March 1994 but had a life-long battle with drugs and depression. At some stage he tried to commit suicide.
In 2006 a book was published about his life. Aptly titled Mi Vida Loca – The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia, it was co-authored by Bettina Gilois from Germany.