Boxing Great Johnny Tapia Dead at 45

Troubled five-time world champ found dead at home

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 29, 2012 2:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – The boxing world is mourning five-time world champion Johnny Tapia, who was found dead at his Albuquerque home on Sunday. The prizefighter, whose career was marked by drug and alcohol addiction, arrests, and depression, was just 45. Police say foul play is not suspected. Tapia's mother was murdered when he was just eight years old, and he said the raw fury he displayed in the ring came from the horrific memory of seeing her kidnapped, the New York Times reports.

Tapia—who Mike Tyson called one of the greatest fighters ever—won 59 fights—30 by knockout. He lost just five fights; two were draws. He was knocked out only once. He had been working as a boxing trainer, and is survived by his wife and three children. "He was such a lovable guy and a terrific fighter,” the vice president of boxing promoters Top Rank tells the Albuquerque Journal. “I’m not shocked by this news, and I guess we all knew it was coming, but he was a wonderful character.”

In this Jan. 19, 2002, file photo, Johnny Tapia celebrates after defeating Argentina's Eduardo Alvarez.   (AP Photo/Adam Butler, File)
Johnny Tapia celebrates after winning a bout against Sammy Stewart at Texas Station in Las Vegas in 1996.   (Getty Images)
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