Full Report

Full report: Tapia died from heart disease

Story & photo by Jose Leon Castillo

A press conference in Albuquerque held by Teresa Tapia revealed that the former five-time world champion died due to heart disease. An autopsy report released on Wednesday revealed the cause of death that had the New Mexico legend passing away approximately 6:30 p.m. on May 27 at the age of 45.

Though prescription drugs played a part, the cause of death has officially been ruled an accident due to heart disease complications.  There were no illegal drugs in Tapia’s system.

“I want to make this clear: Johnny did not die of a drug overdose,” Teresa Tapia told the press. “There were no illicit drugs in his system.

“Johnny was my husband and a father first – then a boxing celebrity. People forget that. They vilify Johnny Tapia’s character due to his celebrity status and forget that he was a man.”

Team Tapia spokesman Dennis Latta explained at the conference that Teresa, wife to Johnny for 20 years, had not only lost her husband, and their two children, their father, but that their family had suffered negative media attacks after the death. Because the 911 tape had been released to the public, tabloid reporters had harassed the family to the point of posing as home inspectors, just to get a story. Forced to move out of Albuquerque, Teresa said she will not speak of her husband’s death again though she will continue to celebrate his life and accomplishments.

Dr Sam Kassicieh, former member of the New Mexico Athletic Commission and Tapia’s personal physician before 2003, verified the fallen champ’s history of hypertension. It was believed, however, that Tapia’s heart condition was under control and up to four days before his death, there had been no signs of trouble.

The autopsy report, officially released on Wednesday, stated that the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart and hypertension. No illicit drugs were found and underlying conditions included Tapia’s history of chronic Hepatitis C from tattoos and treatment for bipolar disorder.

Team Tapia also updated the press on two projects concerning Tapia. The first is a soon-to-be-released documentary, entitled “Tapia,” highlighting Tapia’s triumphs and tribulations .The second is a Hollywood feature – “Johnny” – which will soon start filming in New Mexico early next year. The actor cast in the role of young Tapia is Shiloh Fernandez. Teresa will be played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The future of Tapia’s Boxing Academy was also reassured to the press. Several pro cards are in the works and a spokesman stated that the gym will continue to enroll and train amateurs and professionals alike, in order to keep Johnny’s dream alive. Last weekend, the gym hosted a public workout featuring New Mexico world champion Austin Trout.

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