'Tapia' documentary of life of late Albuquerque boxer set to air on HBO on Dec. 16

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A documentary on the rise and fall of Albuquerque-born, multiple-time world champion boxer Johnny Tapia is scheduled to air on HBO next week.

The network says "Tapia" will be shown Dec. 16 and will show the boxer's life through first-person narration and archival footage. Filmed during the boxer's final months, the documentary shows images from his fights along with episodes from his clashes with the law.

The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year and was shown at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Award for best documentary.

"Johnny Tapia's life story was an incredible journey, and we are eager to celebrate his biggest accomplishments and chronicle the toughest and most difficult moments of his turbulent life," Rock Berstein, HBO Sports executive producer, said in a statement.

The network said hip hop artist and actor Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and boxing promoter Lou DiBella are the documentary's executive producers.

The Mexican-American boxer, who was also known as "Mi Vida Loca," died at his Albuquerque home in 2012. His turbulent boxing career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and run-ins with the law.

Orphaned at 8 when his mother was stabbed 26 times with a screwdriver and left to die, Tapia later turned to boxing, where he won several championships in three weight classes. He won the WBA bantamweight title, the IBF and WBO junior bantamweight titles and the IBF featherweight belt.

During his professional career, however, he was banned from boxing for 3 1/2 years in the early '90s because of his cocaine addiction.

Investigators said there were no indications of a drug overdose or alcohol use in his death but that the 45-year-old former fighter likely developed medical complications from past illegal drug use.

Sam Kassicieh, the boxer's former personal physician and friend, said after reading the autopsy report that he believed Tapia's use of illegal drugs probably played a role in his death, but that it was not the sole reason.


Online: Tapia Trailer (HBO Boxing), http://youtu.be/tllXLOQ2vWU


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