Teresa Tapia: The Queen of Albuquerque–and the Boxing Ring

Teresa Tapia stands in the center of the “Trophy Room.” That is the room inside her spacious home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that serves as a mini-museum in honor of her late husband, Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame (IBHOF) fighter Johnny Tapia. The house comprises not solely the accouterments of Johnny’s storied boxing profession—gloves, trunks, robes, and, most notably, his six championship belts—however, presently, it’s redolent with the amassed emotional remembrances of Teresa Tapia. “Sometimes I come in this room and spray his cologne in the air,” she says. “His presence is strong. I know he’s here with me.”

Since her husband’s untimely dying, 10 years in the past, Teresa has not been idle. She has continued a journey in the male-dominated occupation of boxing that she started whereas working as Johnny’s supervisor, overseeing a profession that made the quixotic boxer one of the highest-paid acts in the sport. For greater than 25 years, she has engaged in negotiations with many of the strongest entities in boxing—HBO Sports activities, Showtime, High Rank Leisure—and, as a supervisor and promoter, she has stewarded dozens of fighters by a dangerous occupation with a excessive casualty fee. Few ladies have ever held such an exalted place in such a macho occupation. No Latina in the historical past of the sport in the United States has ever managed boxing careers and promoted skilled bouts at the stage Teresa has—she is a unicorn. In 2003, she was introduced with a particular award for distinguished service from the World Boxing Corridor of Fame. As CEO of her personal firm, Tapia Promotions, she is La Jefa

Teresa picks up one of Johnny’s belts and arms it to me. “Feel how heavy it is,” she says. I take the belt in my arms. Certainly, it’s heavy, in additional methods than one. It’s the first time I’ve ever held a championship belt. It’s arduous to think about the dedication and fortitude it takes to win one, a lot much less the six which are unfold out in entrance of me in Johnny Tapia’s trophy room. Tapia received titles in three totally different weight courses, together with the unified Worldwide Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Group (WBO) flyweight titles, the unified WBO and World Boxing Affiliation (WBA) bantamweight titles, and, in 2002, the IBF featherweight title. He received 47 straight fights, together with an impressive 1997 showdown with Danny Romero, a fellow Burqueño (Albuquerque native), who was his major rival. In 1999, Tapia misplaced his first combat, a controversial determination to Paulie Ayala. He completed his profession with a report of 59-5-2; together with the IBHOF induction, Tapia is a member of the New Mexico Sports activities Corridor of Fame.

Teresa is conscious of the energy this room holds for a fan of the sport, particularly somebody with information of her late husband’s notoriously troubled life and profession. “Mi Vida Loca,” my loopy life, was Johnny’s moniker in the ring. He earned it. However by thick and skinny, Teresa was at his facet. Of all her accomplishments, it’s the one of which she is most proud. “My whole goal,” she says, “as long as I’m on this earth, is to keep Johnny’s memory alive.”

It was on the afternoon of Might 27, 2012, that Teresa, then 39 years previous, cradled Johnny in her arms of their Albuquerque house as he expired from sudden, catastrophic coronary heart failure. Johnny was 44 at the time, and had solely lately retired from the ring. His coronary heart, which had served him so properly as a supply of herculean energy as a fighter, had failed after years of abuse. Tapia had been a person of cocaine, alcohol, heroin, and methamphetamine. He’d been banned from boxing for 3 years for having failed a drug check, and he appeared hellbent on a life of incarceration—which finally did happen, in 2009, when he served 10 months of an 18-month sentence at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility, in Los Lunas, for violation of parole associated to cocaine use.

In the Nineties and early aughts, Johnny Tapia’s loopy life was one of the largest tales in boxing. Aficionados seek advice from the sport as “the Sweet Science” (the title of a seminal 1956 e-book by A.J. Liebling), however the enterprise facet of the combat recreation has typically been pushed by scandal and sleaze. Teresa by no means tried to cover the tawdrier points of her husband’s media profile. “How could you avoid it?” she asks. “So much of it was out in the open. Johnny’s drug arrests and his doing time in prison were big headlines on ESPN and other sports outlets.”


“My entire strategy in this business is based on people thinking they know me based on me being a woman. I’m still finding ways to work around all these men and do what I have to do to make things happen and get the end results I want.”


At the time, and much more so since Johnny’s dying, Teresa has sought to intensify the constructive. She believes deeply in Johnny’s higher angels—his steadfastness as a husband and father, his rags-to-riches success, his drive and perseverance regardless of an upbringing stuffed with tragedy. Given the tumultuous nature of Johnny’s life and profession, her position as keeper of the flame has not been simple. 

In recent times, Johnny’s legacy has come below assault from somebody near the household, a person who, whereas Johnny was alive, had endeared himself to the boxer and labored his approach into the household. After Johnny was gone, this man, in keeping with Teresa, “turned on me,” and claimed that he was the rightful inheritor to the Tapia legacy. A battle ensued that concerned threats and transgressions, together with the firebombing of Teresa’s automotive and the vandalizing of Johnny Tapia’s grave. Finally, the feud wound up in courtroom, with a choose ruling in Teresa’s favor. However the battle is much from over. It represents one of the largest challenges she’s confronted to date in her position as the guardian of her husband’s legacy.

Says Teresa, “When me and Johnny were together, every day was a challenge. It was crazy. But everything I learned in my time with Johnny prepared me for what I’m dealing with now.”

I first met Teresa Tapia in November 2021, at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & On line casino, in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a village set in the Sierra Blanca mountain vary. Tapia Promotions, below Teresa’s stewardship, was producing a serious boxing card, to be held in a ballroom inside the resort. 

The Inn of the Mountain Gods is positioned on an Apache Indian Reservation, in a component of the state identified for leisure actions. Located apart a artifical lake in Mescalero—a village subsequent door to Ruidoso—the resort is 181 miles southeast of Albuquerque. The three-hour drive takes in some of the most pristine desert surroundings in the state, earlier than climbing into the mountain vary. Ruidoso is a basic New Mexican outpost, with a central procuring space that sells Mexican and Native American tchotchkes and brightly coloured Mexican cantinas on each different block.

I arrived early on the day of the fights, so I may meet and interview Teresa. As Johnny Tapia’s widow and the major organizer of the occasion, she stood out at the press convention in the large foyer space of the inn. There was a time, a long time in the past, when Teresa and her husband had been celeb royalty in the boxing world, identified to some as the king and queen of Albuquerque. The truth {that a} avenue ruffian like Johnny had such a formidable girl in his nook enhanced the boxer’s stature, and he knew it. Along with her stoic demeanor and street-wise Chicana feminidad, the former Teresa Garcia was a uncommon fish in a sea stuffed with sharks. And it took some individuals some time to determine that she was extra than simply arm sweet. 

“Still,” she says, “the men will try to placate me—‘Don’t you worry your pretty little head, sweetheart.’ They underestimate me. But you know what? I love it. My entire strategy in this business is based on people thinking they know me based on me being a woman. I’m still finding ways to work around all these men and do what I have to do to make things happen and get the end results I want.” Today, Teresa’s interior circle of advisers and companions is made up largely (although not solely) of ladies, together with her sisters, Angela and Eva (one of the few feminine matchmakers in boxing); Michelle Garcia, a longtime buddy and adviser; and Ayla Jarvis, director of operations at Tapia Promotions.

Teresa and I are seated on a settee in the foyer of the inn, which has an expansive ceiling, Native American–type carpets and décor, and an enormous crackling hearth. The environment is cozy, and Teresa appears to understand having a breather after the busy dynamics of the press convention, the place greater than a dozen boxers had been launched, together with their trainers and managers.

As Teresa notes, that is the first occasion of this magnitude that she has staged in a while. Initially, after Johnny’s dying, she stayed away from the sport. “It was too painful,” she says. “Johnny was gone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t really know what my role was supposed to be.” It was when her two sons, Johnny Jr. and Nicco, determined as youngsters that they wished to observe of their father’s footsteps that she realized she wanted to get again to work.

In the early 2000s, Teresa and Johnny lived for a time in Ruidoso. The thought was to flee the hectic temptations of Albuquerque, a hard-scrabble, typically misunderstood desert metropolis of gang bangers, scorching air balloons, sopapilla, and Breaking Unhealthy. Predictably, Johnny received bored in Ruidoso. “He was a city boy,” says Teresa. “So we went back home. And he got back into trouble right away.”

Hassle for Johnny Tapia may imply many issues, however it nearly at all times began with medication. “Cocaine is my mistress,” he typically mentioned in interviews, and he wasn’t kidding. After many stints in rehab clinics, overdoses, psychotherapy classes, and Teresa locking him in the home and forcing him to go chilly turkey, he by no means did kick the behavior.

“He had his demons,” remembers Teresa. “We talked about it all the time. He was haunted by his childhood.”

Major amongst Johnny’s demons was the undeniable fact that each his mother and father had been murdered. In accordance with household legend, his father was shot to dying at the time his mom, Virginia, was pregnant with Johnny. Born with no father, Johnny was a mama’s boy, so dedicated to his mother that his uncles made enjoyable of him. Virginia was a single mom in her thirties who favored to decorate up and exit to bars. One night time she went out and by no means got here again. Her physique was present in a ditch; she’d been raped and brutally stabbed to dying.

In Mi Vida Loca, The Loopy Life of Johnny Tapia, a memoir revealed in 2006 below Johnny’s identify, he says: “Something died in me with my mother that day. Something in my heart was never the same.” As he struggled to cope with the gap in his coronary heart, the fighter spoke plainly and with nice poignance in a tv interview about the position performed by Teresa: “If there’s anybody who deserves credit [for keeping me alive], it’s my wife. She loves me. Unconditionally. If she left me, I’m a lost case.”

It was Bob Case, a veteran sports activities agent and shut buddy of the Tapias, who first advised that Teresa take over as Johnny’s supervisor. He got here up with the thought at the fighter’s coaching camp, in Massive Bear, California. In 1995, Johnny had been banished to California as half of a plea cope with the state of New Mexico. He had been arrested with drug paraphernalia in his automotive; it was his third offense. In alternate for not being incarcerated, he was banned from the state for 2 years. Fellow boxer Oscar De La Hoya, at the time a serious star of the sport, provided Johnny the alternative to coach and dwell at his state-of-the-art camp in Massive Bear (after listening to Johnny’s many loopy life tales, it was De La Hoya who advised Tapia change his nickname from “Baby-Faced Assassin” to “Mi Vida Loca”).


“I never brought Johnny into the negotiations. He was a hothead. Somebody might have said something disrespectful to me, and he would be on them like a lion.”


When the Tapias relocated to California, Johnny’s supervisor and coach, Paul Chavez, who was below contract, balked at shifting from New Mexico. He sued Tapia for breach of contract. However a extra quick downside was that Johnny had an upcoming bout in Las Vegas. The promoter, Bob Arum, CEO of boxing promotion firm High Rank, required that every one fighters have a supervisor of report. Johnny, Teresa, and a small group of advisers huddled collectively at the Massive Bear camp to determine what to do. That’s when Case mentioned to the group, “Why don’t we have Teresa serve as Johnny’s manager?”

All people laughed, together with Johnny and Teresa, however Case wasn’t joking.

Case remembers it this manner: “I told Johnny, go ahead, laugh all the way to the bank. Nobody is as devoted to you as Teresa. She’s the one who protects your interests, the one who locks you in a room when you need to get off drugs. She’s the one who fights for you every day. Plus, she’s one of the smartest people I know, smarter than any man. Why not Teresa?”

Teresa wasn’t positive she may do it. She was nervous, however with the help of Johnny and Bob, she determined it was value a attempt. In her preliminary negotiation with Arum, in 1995 in his Las Vegas workplace, Teresa was intimidated. Together with Don King, Arum and High Rank had been the largest gamers in the recreation. A Yale-educated lawyer and former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Arum was a dictatorial negotiator. In accordance with Teresa, as a precondition, she and Johnny had been asking for the next proportion of the gate than Johnny had ever acquired earlier than. Arum ignored that demand and provided a contract below the similar phrases as Johnny’s earlier fights,  telling Teresa, “Here’s the contract. It’s the best deal you’re going to get. Take it or leave it.”

After the assembly, as Teresa remembers, she met with Johnny. “Did you get what we wanted?” he requested. Hesitantly, she answered, “Not exactly.” Johnny checked out Teresa, shocked. “Then you don’t believe in me?” Teresa didn’t know what to say. Down deep, she knew Johnny was proper. The subsequent day, she went again to Arum and dropped the contract on his desk. “We can’t sign that,” she mentioned. “Some of our demands are not in that contract.”

Arum was well mannered however insistent. “You’ll never get a major fight without me,” he mentioned. The subsequent day, the Tapias drove again to their camp at Massive Bear. Johnny was now frightened; he wished to return to Vegas and settle for Arum’s supply. Teresa was terrified that by strolling out on Arum, she had presumably blown her husband’s profession, however she saved these fears to herself. “This is the right way to play it,” she advised Johnny.

Two days later, Bob Arum confirmed up at the camp in Massive Bear. Everybody was startled, together with Teresa, who knew that Arum hardly ever traveled to make offers face-to-face with anybody, besides possibly De La Hoya. Arum acquiesced to the Tapias’ calls for.

A pair of years later, in 1997, Teresa was in a gathering with Don King, Arum’s major competitor. The Tapias had determined to change horses, to see if they may get a greater deal. Teresa favored Don King. “I’d seen the HBO documentary Only in America. Don was portrayed as a hustler and a thug, but I admired how he raised himself up from the streets.” She met King in his lodge suite. Current in the room had been Oscar Goodman, the matchmaker, and King’s lawyer, Carl Lomax. Teresa had left Johnny in the hallway. “I never brought Johnny into the negotiations. He was a hothead. Somebody might have said something disrespectful to me, and he would be on them like a lion.”

As King outlined the parameters of his potential cope with the Tapias, Teresa remembers that she smiled and mentioned, “Well, Don, the way I look at it, all promoters are crooks. If you’re gonna get screwed you might as well get screwed by somebody you like.” King had an unlit cigar in his mouth. He took it out and checked out Teresa. The others held their collective breath. After a second, King laughed and mentioned, “I like you, little girl.”

Throughout the years that Teresa managed Johnny’s profession (the solely husband and spouse boxer-management duo in the historical past of the sport), his fortunes soared. Teresa negotiated offers that had Johnny Tapia headlining televised combat playing cards, unprecedented for a fighter in the bantamweight class (till then, heavyweights had dominated the sport and made the huge cash). She was one of the preliminary managers in the sport to bypass promoters altogether. Negotiating immediately with Jay Larkin, the legendary leisure govt at Showtime, she eradicated the Bob Arums and Don Kings of the world. Tapia Promotions would do their very own selling and make their very own offers. Finally, different identify fighters adopted this course, ushering in a brand new period of profitable offers for outstanding fighters who may assure huge crowds and large scores on cable tv.

In a way, Teresa was following in the footsteps of Jackie Kallen, boxing’s lone feminine publicist and supervisor throughout the Eighties and ’90s. Kallen was a bleached blonde from Detroit, a former leisure journalist who would finally be portrayed by Meg Ryan in the 2004 film Towards the Ropes. Teresa by no means met Kallen, however holds her in excessive esteem as a feminine pioneer in the enterprise.

In 2010, a pair of years earlier than Johnny died, Teresa was approached by a person named Jerry Padilla Sr. At the time, Johnny was in jail serving time on his parole violation, however he was being thought of for an early launch.

Padilla was half of a bunch that was serving to to arrange a charity boxing occasion, which might be half of Johnny’s securing his early launch. Someday, Padilla, who was in his early sixties, pulled Teresa apart. “What he told me was mind-blowing. He told me that 40 years earlier, while a young man, he’d had a brief relationship with a woman named Virginia. They had sex, but the relationship wasn’t serious, and he moved on. He never knew that she had a child.” Later, as Johnny Tapia emerged as a star in Albuquerque and Padilla discovered extra about the boxer’s private biography, he turned satisfied that Johnny was probably his son.

“He wanted me to tell Johnny that he was very possibly his father. Could he talk to him about it? Well, I told him, ’Listen, that’s a very sore subject for Johnny. There’s a lot of trauma around his mother and her murder.’”

When Teresa advised Johnny about Jerry Padilla, he was shocked. “You mean the Jerry Padilla?” Johnny requested. 

Teresa had no concept that Padilla, on the streets of Albuquerque, was one thing of a residing legend. He was the patriarch of Los Padillas, a household in the metropolis’s South Valley that, legislation enforcement believed, was a prison gang often known as Los Padillas DTO (Drug Trafficking Group). In accordance with the federal Drug Enforcement Company (DEA), Los Padillas managed a lot of Albuquerque’s cocaine and methamphetamine commerce. Jerry Padilla had finished three separate stints in jail on narcotics convictions. His son Jeffrey Padilla was at the moment in jail, on a 2003 conviction for second-degree homicide, conspiracy to commit first-degree homicide, and drug trafficking. One other son, Johnny Lee, was wished by the legislation on narcotics expenses and believed to have fled throughout the border into Mexico, the place he was serving as a liaison with the Juárez Cartel. (In November 2019, the physique of Johnny Lee Padilla turned up unexpectedly at Gabaldon Mortuary, in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Paperwork at the South Valley mortuary indicated Padilla’s dying was the outcome of a coronary heart assault and diabetes. However when the physique was examined by DEA medical investigators, there was a bullet gap in the again of the head, stab wounds, and scratches on the again that had been per “signs of torture and execution.”)


“I know most people loved him. So it’s very disheartening that people would go and decide to trash his grave.”


Johnny Tapia was reluctant to simply accept the thought of Jerry Padilla as his father. However he agreed to fulfill the man. Padilla defined the nature of his long-ago relationship with Virginia, and the way they’d as soon as mentioned if she had been to have a child and it was a boy, that they might identify the little one Johnny Lee—which was Tapia’s identify. Padilla and Johnny agreed that he would take a paternity check. Utilizing a questionable house DNA check bought at Walmart, it was decided with a 99.997% likelihood that Padilla was Johnny Tapia’s organic father.

The boxer was overjoyed. Teresa had her doubts, however she deferred to Johnny’s unbridled perception that, at the age of 42, he lastly had a father in his life. Padilla assumed the position with a way of mission. He turned an everyday presence in the fighter’s life, throughout coaching, at ringside, and at household occasions. In Might 2012, after Johnny’s sudden dying, Padilla held a place of honor at Johnny’s public memorial, which happened at “the Pit,” the similar enviornment in Albuquerque the place the boxer had celebrated many victories. It was, in keeping with native media, the largest such memorial ever held for a Burqueño in the historical past of the metropolis.

After Johnny’s burial, Teresa went right into a despair. She had been with Johnny since she was 19 years previous. In accordance with Teresa, she tried suicide and withdrew from household and mates. In 2014, she made a mistake she would remorse for years to return. She married Jeffrey Padilla, Jerry’s son, who had lately been launched from jail after serving 11 years of a 20-year sentence.

At present, Teresa is reluctant to say a lot about her misbegotten marriage, which introduced her into the Padilla household. “I’ve signed a legal agreement with those people,” she says. “I’m not allowed to make public statements of any kind.”

The marriage lasted a mere two weeks, and in April 2014, resulted in divorce. In January 2015, Jeffrey Padilla violated the phrases of his parole and 5 months later was sentenced to a further 4 and a half years in jail. Later, it was publicly alleged that he had been bodily abusive to Teresa whereas they had been collectively.

For a lady who is often referred to by mates and associates as exceptionally good, marriage to an ex-con and gangster she hardly knew at the time is tough to reconcile. In interviews, at any time when I broached this matter with Teresa, it was clear that she was nonplussed and nonetheless, years later, trying to make sense of all of it. She did say that she was advised by Jeffrey and everybody in the Padilla household that Jeffrey didn’t do the murders for which he was convicted; he had solely taken the fall to guard fellow gang members.

In accordance with a supply near the Tapia household, who agreed to speak provided that not recognized by identify, Teresa’s involvement with Jeffrey Padilla—and with the Padilla household basically—was the product of a fastidiously orchestrated manipulation. “When she was at her lowest point,” says the supply, “feeling alone and vulnerable without Johnny, the Padillas convinced her that in order to preserve Johnny’s legacy, she needed to keep things in the family.”

Teresa does admit that the marriage was probably a capitulation on her half to a deep sense of mourning and loss. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” she says. After the divorce was finalized, Teresa had purpose to hope that she was completed with Los Padillas. However in 2015, three years after Johnny Tapia’s dying and solely months after Jeffrey Padilla was despatched again to jail, she discovered that Jerry Padilla was promoting Johnny Tapia–associated memorabilia on-line and utilizing the Tapia identify with out authorization. Padilla hoped to get into boxing promotion, and he was profiteering off Johnny’s identify. As executor of Johnny’s property, Teresa knowledgeable the elder Padilla that he had no proper to make use of Johnny’s identify and wanted to stop and desist. Not solely did Jerry Padilla push again, he advised Teresa that he was the rightful consultant of the Tapia identify since he was Johnny’s father, and that Teresa had been doing a poor job of sustaining Johnny’s legacy.

“He was being really weird,” says Teresa. “I told him, come on, you only knew Johnny for a year and a half. I was with him for 20 years.” Teresa threatened to sue Padilla if he didn’t cease utilizing Johnny’s identify for promotional and monetary functions. Padilla ignored her calls for, and so, in the District Court docket of Bernalillo County, Teresa Tapia and Johnny Tapia Presents filed a lawsuit in opposition to Jerry Padilla Sr. for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and violation of the Unfair Commerce Practices Act.

Some of Teresa’s closest allies advised her she was loopy. Taking over Jerry Padilla was no joke. Not solely was he a bona fide OG with a prison report and fearsome avenue popularity, he had turn out to be, lately, a participant in New Mexico state politics. (Padilla was a visual supporter of the state’s governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.) However Teresa had come to see the difficulty as a wrestle for management of her husband’s legacy, a calling she might need tarnished by marrying into the Padilla household however one she was decided to rectify by combating for the reminiscence of a person to whom she had devoted her complete grownup life.

It didn’t take lengthy for Teresa to comprehend issues had been going to get ugly. A lawyer employed by Teresa found that Los Padillas had been on the offensive. Investigators decided that somebody representing the Padillas had leaked to the press that Teresa had been married once more earlier than she married Jeffrey Padilla. In late 2012, Teresa had wed Darius McCrary, an actor and shut buddy of Johnny Tapia’s. In accordance with Teresa, she and McCrary had been each in deep mourning over the loss of Johnny, so that they married considering it would assist reduce the ache. They rapidly realized it had been a “dumb but innocent mistake.” They divorced, and Teresa had the marriage annulled.


Early in the proceedings, a bolt of lightning lit up the horizon and thunder rumbled by the space like a impolite collection of jabs and uppercuts. “That’s Johnny,” Teresa mentioned to me that night time. “His spirit is here with us.”


Revelations about that relationship, although meant to embarrass Teresa, had been minor in comparison with Los Padillas’ subsequent line of assault. An nameless supply contacted the New Mexico Youngsters, Youth and Households Division (CYFD) and claimed that Teresa Tapia ought to be investigated on expenses of abuse and/or neglect in connection together with her kids, Nicco and Johnny Jr., who had been now youngsters. The CYFD initiated an investigation and decided that the expenses had been unsubstantiated. Investigators for Teresa, utilizing telephone data, found that the “anonymous complaint” had come from a quantity related to Los Padillas.

To Teresa, the false allegations of parental neglect had been a low blow, and so they pushed her to the edge. In Might 2015, she held a press convention at which she declared, “I fear for my life.” Uncharacteristically, she broke down in tears whereas on digital camera. She attributed the smear marketing campaign in opposition to her largely to Jeffrey Padilla, performing on his personal or maybe on behalf of his father. She had gone to the press out of desperation. She was at warfare with the metropolis’s premier gangster clan. With out Johnny, she felt weak in her personal hometown, one thing she had by no means felt earlier than.

In April 2016, Teresa’s white SUV was firebombed late at night time by an assailant with a Molotov cocktail. She was indoors and nowhere close to the automotive at the time of the assault. That very same week, her different automotive was damaged into and burglarized. The harassment appeared as if it would by no means finish. Then Teresa achieved her beautiful victory in courtroom.

It had not been Teresa’s intention to problem whether or not Jerry Padilla was actually Johnny’s father, however in the course of the lawsuit in opposition to Padilla, the defendant was ordered to undergo a brand new DNA check. The outcomes of this check, overseen and administered by a District Court docket choose, excluded Padilla as Johnny Tapia’s organic father. Moreover, Decide Clay Campbell dominated that the earlier check had not solely been inaccurate however was more than likely a “fraud” orchestrated by the defendant. The choose ordered Padilla to pay fines totaling $120,000 and to cease utilizing Johnny Tapia’s identify or likeness in public for promotional or monetary acquire.

Regardless of the ruling, Padilla advised an interviewer for a neighborhood tv information program, “To my knowledge, I am Johnny’s father, and my whole family knows it.”

For some time, it appeared as if Teresa had received the warfare. Padilla seemed to be shocked by the ruling. For months, there have been no extra incidents or assaults. Padilla filed an enchantment, which was overruled in the similar forceful phrases as the authentic verdict. In spite of everything authorized avenues had been exhausted, the unthinkable occurred. The gravesite of Johnny Tapia was vandalized.  At San Jose De Armijo Cemetery, somebody broke image frames and glass candleholders that had been positioned at the grave, and even stole a framed picture of Tapia’s late mom, Virginia. Teresa was shocked. “Johnny loved New Mexico,” she advised a neighborhood information reporter, “and I know most people loved him. So it’s very disheartening that people would go and decide to trash his grave.”

Extra saddened than indignant, Teresa had had sufficient. She instructed her attorneys to achieve out to authorized representatives for the Padilla household, to barter a deal. In some methods, Teresa was doing with Jerry Padilla what she had finished with Bob Arum, Don King, and all the different swaggering male counterparts in the boxing enterprise who believed they may bulldoze the fairly Chicana who stood between them and the full exploitation of “Mi Vida Loca.” A authorized association was labored out between Teresa and Los Padillas. She explains that the particulars of the settlement prohibit her from speaking about it with the media, however she refers to the settlement as “amicable”—a authorized time period most frequently used to place lipstick on the pig of an particularly ugly enterprise separation or a bitter divorce.

At the fights in Ruidoso final November, Jerry Padilla was in attendance. He was amongst the entourage who walked into the ring with Nicco Tapia for his first beginner bout. And for many of the combat card that night time, Padilla sat close to or subsequent to Teresa. They had been civil with each other, although there was no seen camaraderie or rapport. Sources with information of the negotiation between Teresa and Los Padillas recommend that Jerry Padilla’s entry is an element of their settlement: If the OG halts the exploitation and trashing of Johnny’s legacy, Teresa will enable Padilla to stay half of the Tapia household entourage at native boxing matches.

When requested if it was arduous for her to be seen in public with the man who had made her life a residing hell for the previous six years, Teresa sighs and says, “I did what I had to do to preserve Johnny’s legacy.” (Jerry Padilla was provided a possibility to remark for this text; he declined.)

Final June, in honor of the 10-year anniversary of Johnny’s dying, Tapia Promotions staged an evening of boxing in Albuquerque. The occasion happened outdoor at The Workplace, an enormous bar/restaurant on the grounds of a golf course in the metropolis’s picturesque North Valley. It was an uncommon venue: The boxing ring was below a big tent, surrounded by the fairways and placing greens of the golf course. Past that had been fields of sage and cactus, and on the horizon, the jagged hills of the Petroglyphs, prehistoric volcanic rock formations that after dominated the complete space.

The metropolis of Albuquerque hadn’t seen rain in additional than two months, however that night time the skies opened up and it poured. Some spectators left, however most huddled collectively below the tent in neighborly vogue. It was a basic Burqueño crowd, overwhelmingly Chicano: Johnny Tapia’s individuals. Early in the proceedings, a bolt of lightning lit up the horizon and thunder rumbled by the space like a impolite collection of jabs and uppercuts. “That’s Johnny,” Teresa mentioned to me that night time. “His spirit is here with us.”

Teresa’s devotion to the reminiscence of her husband was a serious facet of the occasion, with practically each native fighter—in post-fight interviews over the PA system—paying homage to “the greatest fighter the city of Albuquerque has ever produced.” Between the lightning and thunder and exuberant fisticuffs in the ring, there was love in the air. The viewers thinned out, however the true followers remained, hunkered down collectively for one of the oldest kinds of leisure identified to the human species.

Teresa, together with her entourage of sisters and feminine cohorts, held courtroom ringside. There was no quantity of rain that might dampen the flame. It jogged my memory of a remark Teresa made after I interviewed her months earlier, at her house. We had simply come from the Trophy Room, with its overflowing reminiscences of a singular boxing profession that serves as inspiration for an awfully decided girl. I requested a ultimate query of the champion’s widow: “In all your years with Johnny, given your loyalty and support and expert advocacy as his manager, it’s clear what Johnny got out of the relationship. But what was it that Johnny gave to you?”

She answered with out hesitation: “Unconditional love.”  ❖

T.J. English is the creator of 9 nonfiction books, together with Harmful Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld. He lives in Manhattan and Albuquerque.





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