|Ring legend Johnny Tapia.|
Tapia was only 45 years of age. His tremendous career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and run-ins with the law. But, this did not take anything away from how successful he was inside the ring. The Mexican-American won five world titles in three different weight divisions and was also very successful as an amateur, wining National Golden Gloves titles in 1983 and 1985.
He turned pro in 1988 and by 1991 he had a perfect record of 20-0-1 and looked a certain star of the future. However, he was then banned for three and a half years for testing positive in a drug test. For may people thi would have been the end of their career but Tapia, a warrior inside and outside of the ring, did not let this affect him. 'Burque's Best' orchestrated one of the best comebacks ever seen and in 1994 he won the WBO super flyweight title with an 11th TKO over Henry Ramirez.
'Mi Vida Loca' then went on to have tremendous success for many years until suffering his first loss in 48 fights against Paulie Ayala in 1999. Later that year, Tapia was hospitalized after he tried to commit suicide. However, he once again managed to overcome this blip in his career and went on to win world titles at bantamweight and featherweight until losing to a unanimous decision to Marco Antonio Barrera.
From 2003-11 Tapia fought on, and won 7 of 9 bouts. But, these fights were against lesser opponents and 'Mi Vida Loca' was not a shadow of the fighter he once was.
It is fair to say, that Tapia deserved every single bit of success he had in his brilliant career. He had to overcome so much in his life at such a young age. Tapia never knew his father and at just 8-years old he witnessed his own mother being murdered. He also witnessed friends being murdered and was troubled by addictions for most of life.
Whatever happened outside of the ring will not be the reason that we will all remember Johnny Tapia. Inside the ring he was one of the most successful fighters of recent times and deserved every single bit of success he ever received.
Rest In Peace Johnny Tapia!