Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 8:18 am
By: News On 6
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Five-time world champion Johnny Tapia remained hospitalized Tuesday after an apparent cocaine overdose, the latest episode outside the ring in the Albuquerque fighter's turbulent life.
The 40-year-old Tapia was in critical condition at Presbyterian Hospital, said Elizabeth Schomburg, communications specialist for Presbyterian Healthcare Services.
Tapia was taken to the hospital on Monday after paramedics responded to an early morning call about a person who wasn't breathing at a hotel room, said officer Trish Hoffman of the Albuquerque Police Department.
``It appears to be an overdose,'' Hoffman said. ``He will be charged with possession of a controlled substance.''
Police discovered a plastic bag containing a white substance, which Hoffman said was confirmed by tests as cocaine.
``This is a difficult time for the family. They greatly appreciate the many prayers and heartfelt wishes from the public. They ask that their privacy be respected at this time so that they can focus on Mr. Tapia's return to health,'' said Todd Sandman, the hospital's director of public relations.
Tapia's latest episode with drugs comes more than two weeks after he won a majority decision over Evaristo Primero of El Paso, Texas. That fight was billed as Tapia's farewell performance from the ring. He has a 56-5-2 record.
In pre-fight remarks, Tapia said his hard-living days were behind him and described how his three children had firmly grounded his life. But in the same interview, Tapia's old personality resurfaced.
``Every day, I'm doing good. But if I want to go drink right now, I can,'' he said. ``Nobody tells me what I can do or what I want to do. I'm trying to do for my family and myself, but if I want to go party, I'll party.''
Tapia was banned from boxing for 3 1/2 years in the early 1990s because of his cocaine addiction. He spent six months in rehabilitation in 2003 after a collapse at home and later that year police said he overdosed on prescription pills.
It's has been a hard life outside the ring for Tapia, who was orphaned at 8, his mother stabbed 26 times with a screwdriver. He never knew his father and has battled cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and numerous run-ins with the law.
In his book ``Mi Vida Loca,'' Tapia said he's been declared clinically dead six times.
Inside the ring, Tapia won five titles in three weight classes, celebrated victories with a backflip and was beloved by New Mexico boxing fans. Tapia won the WBA bantamweight title, the IBF and WBO junior bantamweight titles and the IBF featherweight belt.