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RIP Johnny Tapia

Boxing lost one of its true warriors on Sunday as 5-time world champion Johnny Tapia was found dead in his home.

Johnny Tapia Dies at 45

Tapia had as rough an upbringing as anyone. He was just 8 years old when he awoke in the middle of the night to hear his mother screaming after she’d been repeatedly stabbed, raped, and left for dead. Shortly after, at age nine, Tapia turned to the sport of boxing.

He battled demons outside the ring  throughout his career, but always managed to give 100 percent in each of his bouts. He fought with as much heart as anyone.

I was fortunate to communicate with Tapia several years ago and he was as kind as real as they come. He will certainly be missed.

RIP Champ

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If it wasn’t for boxing, I don’t know if I’d be alive today. I have demons I fight every day, and I mean every day. But when I have a fight, I throw all my focus and determination into that. I’m lucky to have this career, and do something I’ve always loved to do. – Johnny Tapia

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5 comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Sven May 29th, 2012 7:25 am

    R.I.P., champ.
    A true warrior’s left us who was always ready to leave it his all in the ring.

    If it weren’t for boxing he probably wouldn’t have seen his thirties come pass by.

  2. Eric May 29th, 2012 2:46 pm

    What a hard life this guy lived. Unbelievable he managed to to keep his sanity long enough to win a title and who can really blame him for turning to drugs and alcohol given the horrific life he lived. How exactly did Tapia die? Unfortunately you could have all but predicted an early death for Tapia given his history and background. Tragic and often times violent deaths are more common than one might imagine for professional boxers, there have been some noteworthy boxers who have been murdered like Stanley Ketchel, Oscar Bonavena,Vernon Forrest, Battling Siki, and the jury is still out on the official causes of Sonny Liston and Arturo Gatti’s deaths. Victor Galindez, Carlos Monzon, Salvador Sanchez, Jack Johnson all died in car crashes. While Alexis Arguello, Eddie Machen, Randy Turpin, and Freddie Mills all died at their own hands. Then you have fighters like Bobby Chacon or Aaron Pryor whose careers were shortened or hampered by substance abuse. And sometimes like in the case of Tony Ayala and Mike Tyson a prison sentence interrupts once promising careers. Often times in the late ’70′s and early 80′s Leon Spinks seemed to be on his way to joining one of these lists but Neon Leon seems to have beaten the odds. You almost feel it’s just a matter of time before certain fighters like Hector Camacho or maybe even Mike Tyson will maybe be another tragic story for boxing.

  3. Sven May 30th, 2012 12:40 am

    @Eric,
    don’t forget Arturo Gatti – a almost certain murder, which probably will never be solved! And of course Diego Corrales.

    I think that Boxing is not just a sport – it is much more than that. It’s not a sport everybody can and will pick up, let alone rise to the top. You need a certain background to be willing to get hit and dish it out. And that background is often found at the low end of society. At least that is the case in the States, Britain and part of Asia.
    In Eastern Europe Boxing is much more a traditional sport (it was common to let medicine students at the university take boxing classes!), therefore you lack the often violent and harsh background that so many american boxers seem to have.
    Cheers
    Sven, Italy

  4. Sven May 30th, 2012 12:49 am

    Just watched Tapia on youtube for hours. What a man, what a fighter!
    I remember watching him perform in the 90s – he was so intense, you just knew you would get a good fight from him (and often more than that).
    Excellent technique, good conditioning, iron will and most of the time some crazy turn in the process.

    I hope they put out a film about him. His life has all the ingredients for a classic boxing film.

    RIP, champ. May you find in heaven, what you couldn’t here on earth.

  5. Richard June 1st, 2012 7:24 am

    Was fortunate to meet him in New Mexico at my regional Golden Gloves tourney in ’89 and got to see him fight live too. He was hard core and even then people were telling me he had some major issues (demons). Just grateful he was able to give something to the sport and make a part of his life noteworthy in his own way. RIP Johnny.

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