Johnny Tapia, 5-time boxing champion found dead
Johnny Tapia, a five-time boxing champion, was found dead on Sunday at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Spokesman Robert Gibbs reported that authorities were called to the house at about 7:45 p.m. on Sunday. He said the death didn’t seem to involve any foul play. Tapia, whose last fight was in June, was 45. Gibbs said an autopsy will be performed in the next few days.
In his career, Tapia won five championships in three weight classes, winning the WBA bantamweight title, the IBF and WBO junior bantamweight titles, and the IBF featherweight belt. He was regarded as the consummate underdog by his fans. The more trouble the champion encountered outside the ring, including addiction, alcohol, depression, and run-ins with the law, the more his fans rallied around him. Tapia’s life was marked by tragedy beginning when he was orphaned at the age of eight, after his mother was stabbed 26 times with a screwdriver and left to die. In 2007, several days after he was hospitalized from an apparent cocaine overdose, his brother-in-law and nephew were killed in a car accident on their way to a boxing match. He was banned from the ring for three and a half years in the early ‘90s due to his cocaine addiction. But, in 1994, Tapia knocked out Henry Martinez to win the WBO bantamweight title and won four more championships over the next eight years. His fans gave him the Spanish title, “Burque’s Best.”