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Boxer Tapia Talks About Brush With Death

February 11, 2003

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Boxer Johnny Tapia says he won’t survive his next brush with death.

``I don’t get no more chances,″ Tapia said. ``Next time I die I’m out. My nine lives are over.″

Declared clinically dead _ for the fourth time in his life _ last month at a hospital after collapsing at his Las Vegas home, Tapia is now in a California rehab center for his cocaine addiction.

The troubled boxer, in a report to be broadcast Tuesday on HBO Real Sports, tearfully described a life filled with pain since his mother was stabbed 22 times and raped when he was eight.

``I have a bunch of hurt and anger in me to this day,″ he said. ``I never got to say goodbye, never got to say I love you. Every time I fight, I think about my mom. I get vicious.″

The five-time champion, who lost his last fight Nov. 3 to Marco Antonio Barrera, says his troubles _ which include arrests, suicide attempts, drug overdoses _ usually occur when he is between fights and not training.

Tapia’s latest hospitalization occurred Jan. 11 after he returned to his Las Vegas home after he and his cousin were involved in a police standoff in Arizona. His wife, Teresa, said he came out of a bathroom where he was vomiting and collapsed.

Teresa Tapia said she first knew the boxer used cocaine on their wedding night when he disappeared. She got a call the next day saying he had overdosed on cocaine.

Two years ago, Tapia _ who has been diagnosed as bipolar _ tried to commit suicide.

``I just don’t know how the story is going to end,″ Teresa Tapia said.

Tapia said cocaine is his mistress, something he needs when he is not focused and training for a fight. He said it gets him through his pain over his mother’s death.

``When I’m using drugs and drinking I don’t think of it,″ he said.

Tapia said he needs help to kick his habit and wants help. But he also said he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to live or die.

``Yes, no,″ he said when asked if he wanted to live. ``Yes, I want to live with my wife and kids and be straight. There’s also times I want to go.″

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