Posted at: 11/28/2012 5:43 PM
Updated at: 11/28/2012 9:13 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Photo: Johnny Tapia
An Albuquerque City Councilor plans to introduce legislation that renames the Wells Park Community Center after the late Johnny Tapia.
Wells Park Community Center provides after-school child care for children and there is a park nearby that is a favorite for adults and children in the area. City Councilor Ken Sanchez said he pledged to name the community center after Tapia while eulogizing him during his funeral at the UNM Pit.
“I made the statement that I would like to see the community center named after Johnny Tapia and 8,000 people stood up and applauded," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said Tapia grew up in the Wells Park area of downtown Albuquerque and trained to be a boxer there as well. Through the years, Sanchez and Tapia grew to become friends so Sanchez knows the battles Tapia had with drugs; what Tapia called his demons.
“He grew up seeing his mother murdered,” Sanchez said. “I think that had a real impact on his life and I think that was a problem he was dealing with, but through all that adversity he stood tall and loved Albuquerque."
Tapia was a legend in the boxing ring winning 59 of his 66 fights. But he was also a known drug user and a convicted felon. Parents at the community center had mixed feelings about the idea.
"I don't think it's a really good idea,” one parent said. “Johnny Tapia represents something that is not good for kids.”
The proposal will be debated at a future Albuquerque City Council meeting. At least five councilors must vote for the name change to make it happen. Sanchez expects the cost to the city to be minimal.