With boxing fans coming to grips with the death of five-time world champion Johnny Tapia, reaction to the beloved prizefighter's death poured in from around the state and across the Internet on Monday.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said the troubled prize fighter should be remembered for what he did with his craft, not what he did with his personal life.
And what a troubled life it was.
Born and raised in one of Albuquerque's toughest neighborhoods, the 45-year-old battled drug and alcohol addiction, dealt with depression, continually ran afoul of the law and nearly ended his life by drug overdose and suicide attempts.
Despite all that, Tapia was arguably one of the most well-known sports figures the state has ever produced. And unlike most, he was embraced by communities as one of their own no matter where he went.
"Let us remember Johnny Tapia for his skill in the ring and the thrills he brought New Mexico fans as he won world championship belts," Richardson said. "I will always fondly remember his boisterous laugh, his bigger than life personality, and his love for the state and his many fans. May he rest in peace."
Police were called to Tapia's home at about 7:45 p.m. Sunday, according to Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Robert Gibbs. He said Tapia's death did not appear to be suspicious.
Results of an autopsy will not be known for a few days.
Family spokesman Dennis Latta issued a statement from Tapia's wife, Teresa, on Monday.
"Today our family grieves the loss of a husband, a father and a close friend," she said. "With Johnny, the world has lost not just a Hall of Fame boxer but a special person, a fighter in life and in the ring. I am appreciative of all the support and condolences we've received and I thank Johnny's many friends and fans for standing by in this difficult time."
Tapia won five title belts in three weight classes, taking the WBA bantamweight title, the IBF and WBO junior bantamweight titles and the IBF featherweight belt.
Suspended early in his professional career after testing positive for cocaine, he was embraced by fans because of his outgoing, generous personality.
Even in his long-standing rivalry with fellow Albuquerque boxer Danny Romero, a clean-cut fighter who seemed the exact opposite of the troubled Tapia, it was Tapia's reputation that soared.
But his life was also marked by tragedy. His mother was murdered when he was 8. Five years ago, he nearly died from cocaine overdose. In 2010, he did a stint in prison because of his problems with drugs.
He last fought in June, beating Mauricio Pastrana in an eight-round decision to finish with a 59-5-2 record.
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