Move over Rocky. Here comes Johnny! Next year, film producers plan to kick off production of Johnny, dramatizing the life story of five-time boxing world champion, Johnny Tapia. Although Rocky’s life was tumultuous, it was fictional. In contrast, Tapia’s life was as real as it was tragic—not only defining his character, but making for a potentially powerful silver screen creation, to be directed by Eddie Alcazar.
Tapia lost both parents at a young age. His father was reportedly murdered before he was born; and at the age of eight, his mother died from injuries sustained during a brutal attack. Tapia’s grandmother took him in, and within a year, Tapia was boxing regularly. Neither Tapia nor his grandmother anticipated he would become a world champion within a decade.
By the nature of the sport, boxing attracts athletes with troubled lives. Tapia’s journey to the ring was beyond nightmarish. Orphaned at a young age, he grew into a world-class boxer who loved fame and recognition. In 2007, he almost died of a cocaine overdose; and five years later, he was found dead in his apartment, an apparent suicide victim at the age of 45.
Tapia’s story is another reminder that people from tragic backgrounds who achieve enormous success are especially prone to self-destructive behavior. For Tapia, boxing was a way out, but it also inadvertently opened the door to other problems: drug addiction, shameless self-indulgence and a bloated ego.
Eddie Alcazar is not only directing Johnny, the big-budget film; he’s also releasing a documentary in late 2012 entitled Tapia.