Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cocaine-Fueled Tapia Committed to Psych Ward

Five-time world champion Johnny Tapia, locked in battle once again with his cocaine demons, has been committed to the psychiatric ward of the Bernalillo County Metro Detention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

An anonymous source telephoned Tapia's long-time probation officer Tuesday morning and informed her that Tapia was using cocaine.

According to a spokesperson at the New Mexico State Department of Corrections, the probation officer then called Tapia at his home and he admitted to her that he was using cocaine which is in violation of the terms of his probation for a prior drug offense. Within hours the former champ was again behind bars.

Tapia, who turns 42 today, has essentially been retired since February 2007 when he last appeared in the ring with a 10-round majority decision win over Evaristo Primero. On a few occasions over the past two years there were rumors that Tapia was going to make a return to the fight game but the bouts never came to fruition.

A representative at the Metro Detention Center in Albuquerque would only confirm that Tapia was brought into custody Tuesday afternoon, that an evaluation was performed and that he had been admitted to the psychiatric ward. No messages are able to be passed on to him by the press.

Tapia has battled against cocaine addiction for over two decades and as a result he has had many run-ins with the law. He has been in and out of jail, rehab and hospitals on numerous occasions over the years. His life story was well documented in the 2006 book 'Mi Vida Loca' or 'My Crazy Life' written by Bettina Gilois, in which Tapia claimed he has cheated death on no less than five occasions.

A month after his last fight, Tapia overdosed in a New Mexico hotel room and slipped into a coma. As a result of that incident he was charged with possession of a controlled substance and placed on probation. He was given a second and third chance by Albuquerque Judge Kenneth H. Martinez in April 2008 and again in August 2008.

According to public records obtained by this writer, Tapia admitted to his probation officer last summer that he had done "one line of cocaine." However, at the time Judge Martinez did not feel that alone was reason enough to revoke Tapia's probation and that little good would come of incarcerating him.

Tapia claims his drug problems are the result of trying to deal with the death and memory of his mother.

Tapia's mother, Virginia, was stabbed 26 times in a brutal murder that went unsolved for over two decades. His father was also murdered in a separate incident. Tapia was eight years old at the time of his mother's death.

"I've tried to get over it in the past," said Tapia in his book of his mother's murder. "I've been on so many different kinds of medications. I've been to so many treatments and psychiatrists and therapy. It all hasn't worked. None of it. Not for the long run."

Tapia is currently being held without bond until he appears before a judge. Calls to Tapia's wife, Teresa, who also served as his manager, have not been returned.

February 2009

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