Johnny Tapia

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Name: Johnny Tapia
Alias: Mi Vida Loca
Birth Name: John Lee Tapia
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Died: 2012-05-27 (Age:45)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 168cm
Reach: 165cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Amateur Achievements

  • Amateur Record: 150-12 or 101-21 with 65 knockouts (sources differ) [1] [2]
  • 1983 National Golden Gloves Light Flyweight Champion. Outpointed Darrin Pitts in the finals.
  • 1984 United States Olympic Western Trials Light Flyweight Finalist. Outpointed by Arthur Johnson in the finals.
  • 1985 National Golden Gloves Flyweight Champion. Outpointed Richard Duran in the finals.

Professional Career

Tapia would celebrate wins by doing a back flip
Johnny Tapia (left) vs. Danny Romero
Johnny Tapia (left) vs. Paulie Ayala I

Minor Titles


  • Jerry Padilla, Tapia's father, vanished before he was born. Tapia thought he was dead, but he turned up in 2010 after being released from a federal penitentiary. DNA tests confirmed his paternity.
  • Virginia Tapia, Johnny's mother, was murdered when he was eight years old.
  • Tapia's uncles made him fight older boys in matches. They would bet on him to win and beat him if he lost.
  • Tapia was raised by his maternal grandparents.
  • Miguel Tapia, Johnny's grandfather, was an amateur boxing champion and taught him how to box.
  • Tapia struggled with drugs and alcohol for many years. He was declared clinically dead five times as a result of drug overdoses.
  • Tapia attempted suicide several times.
  • Johnny and Teresa Tapia were married in 1994. They had three children. [4]
  • HBO aired a documentary about his life and career, simply called Tapia, in 2013. It included interviews with Johnny and Teresa and rare footage of his rise to stardom.
  • On May 27, 2013, Tapia was found dead inside his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The autopsy report stated that Tapia's death was the result of heart problems and the onset of Hepatitis C, likely from the many tattoos he had. Teresa Tapia shared the autopsy report with reporters at a press conference on August 21, 2013, and said she was doing it to dispel the myth that her husband died after using illegal drugs. "This shows that he did not die of a drug overdose," she said. "It doesn't make the pain go away, but I felt I needed to say that." Investigators found one Hydrocodone tablet, a painkiller, on the floor beside his body. They said there were no indications of an overdose or alcohol use, but that the 45-year-old former fighter likely developed medical complications from past illegal drug use. Teresa Tapia said her husband was taking medication for his bipolar disorder and for his high blood pressure. [5]
  • At the beginning of his 2006 autobiography, Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia, Tapia wrote: "My name is Johnny Lee Tapia. I was born on Friday the 13th. A Friday in February of 1967. To this day I don't know if that makes me lucky or unlucky. When I was eight I saw my mother murdered. I never knew my father. He was murdered before I was born. I was raised as a pit bull. Raised to fight to the death. Four times I was declared dead. Four times they wanted to pull life support. And many more times I came close to dying. But I have lived and had it all. I have been wealthy and lost it all. I have been famous and infamous. Five times I was world champion. You tell me. Am I lucky or unlucky?"

Preceded by:
Johnny Bredahl
WBO Super Flyweight Champion
1994 Oct 12 – 1998 Dec 5
Succeeded by:
Victor Godoi
Preceded by:
Danny Romero
IBF Super Flyweight Champion
1997 Jul 8 – 1998 Dec 5
Succeeded by:
Mark Johnson
Preceded by:
Nana Konadu
WBA Bantamweight Champion
1998 Dec 5 – 1999 Jun 26
Succeeded by:
Paulie Ayala
Preceded by:
Jorge Eliecer Julio
WBO Bantamweight Champion
2000 Jan 8 – 2000 Sep
Succeeded by:
Mauricio Martinez
Preceded by:
Manuel Medina
IBF Featherweight Champion
2002 Apr 27 – 2002 Sep 30
Succeeded by:
Juan Manuel Marquez