ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Today our family grieves the loss of a husband, a father and a close friend. 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.
I know many people are waiting for news but as we await the results of the autopsy I am not in a position to make any comment on what happened on Sunday.
We will hold a public memorial service for Johnny to give everyone a chance to say good-bye. The holiday and autopsy are delaying our final plans. We will announce the particulars as soon as arrangements have been made.
I know Johnny will be missed by everyone who ever met him. He was a special light in this world. He loved people so much, made friends with everyone so easily and kept those friends forever. He will remain in our hearts and be missed by all of us very dearly.
– Teresa Tapia
Bill Richardson, former New Mexico governor: “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. 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.”
Louie Burke, trainer of Las Cruces world champion Austin Trout: “We have heavy hearts, but that’s just going to make Austin fight harder (in his Saturday title defense against Delvin Rodriguez). We want to dedicate this fight to Johnny, and we’d like to make him proud of what we’ve done because he made us proud.”
Max Abeyta, longtime New Mexico boxing administrator: “He had his problems. (But) if you and Johnny were standing there and you wanted his shirt, he’d take it off and hand it to you. … The guy had a heart.”
Freddie Roach, Tapia’s former trainer: “It’s a great loss to our sport. They called me (Sunday) night about 10 p.m., and I didn’t sleep all night, just thinking about him. He was just a little bit crazy, in a good way, and always fun.”
Chris Cozzone, boxing writer, photographer and historian: “I don’t think there’s ever been as loved a fighter and person in the (New Mexico) boxing industry as Johnny Tapia.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal