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V.23 No.34 | 8/21/2014

Letters

Wherein Alibi readers writeabout violence in Albuquerque, the brutality of boxing and the environmental apathy of baby boomers.

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dreams

Rowdy’s Dream Blog #307: I am having a boxing match.

I box with gloves in our basement with a small Black girl. Every right I land sends her rolling, but she bounces back, swinging. Finally, we stop the fight. I try to explain to her the importance of fighting in one's own weight class. She has me feel her rock-hard abs.

news

The Daily Word in English royalty, Bigfoot, and the "I Dream of Jeannie" guy died

Someone stole a Navajo blanket from a Santa Fe resort.

Slate wrote the least entertaining Bigfoot piece ever.

Boxer Hector Camacho died from his gunshot wounds.

You already knew J.R. died but did you know Larry Hagman was friends with Kieth Moon?

Collection of Larry Hagman clips.

A naked guy spent three happy hours on top of a statue of Prince George in downtown London.

Have the remains of cruel and hunchbacked Richard III been found under a parking lot in Leicester?

One obese squirrel eating a Snickers in a pear tree.

Check out hacker syndicate Anonymous' video message to Karl Rove about stealing the Ohio election.

Here. You need another reason not to patronize Walmart.

Dude Chilling Park.

This is China.

It is now law that people shall wear pants in the streets of San Francisco.

On this day in 1864 aristocratic dwarf Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born.


News

The Daily Word in Occupations, Constitutionalism and other sundry protests

It's Occupy Wall Street's one-year anniversary.

(For some additional context, step into the Bureau of Public Secrets.)

Also, Happy Constitution Day!

Banking giants are in the crosshairs of a major money laundering investigation.

U.S. executive branch files trade complaints against China as Romney tries to go on the offensive.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel files a court injunction in an attempt to end teachers' strike.

Americans warned to avoid Lebanon today as anti-U.S. protests spread.

An Albuquerque woman is raising funds to help a vet who lost his guide dog.

Puzzling kidney disease affects farmers worldwide.

Aging nuclear bombs get costly upgrades here in town.

Rebels attack energy infrastructure in Colombia.

Obama's "Pop" drank Seagram's, neat.

South Korea is apparently the "male makeup capital of the world."

Miles Davis, pugilist.

sports

Hangover Sports Roundup

Fresh and unsung U.S. Olympic medalists

Gold-medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs
Photo by Yuri Cortez
Gold-medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs
As always, the Olympic Games provided memorable sporting moments that will be talked about for years to come. Highlights of 2012 include Usain Bolt making history by winning three medals in back-to-back Olympics, and Michael Phelps becoming the most-decorated (and arguably greatest) Olympian in history. But with a limited amount of sports featured on the NBC primetime telecast, many athletic feats won't get the attention and respect they deserve. To be specific, let’s examine two athletes who not only won gold but are also primed to make history in future Olympic Games.

Outside of the wrestling and combat-sports community, Jordan Burroughs was a relative unknown despite his two NCAA titles and All-American status at the University of Nebraska. Burroughs’ success in college has caught the attention of the Mixed Martial Arts world to make the crossover. However, he had other plans by beginning his quest to become the greatest American wrestler ever. The 2011 World Championships saw Burroughs win the 74kg championship and made him a favorite to win gold in London. Burroughs embraced his role as the new star of American wrestling by changing his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold. His confidence and swagger proved to be a valuable asset in defeating a difficult field of Iranian and Russian wrestlers. In the final, Burroughs achieved his destiny by overcoming his 2011 World Championship foe, Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi to claim gold. Along with extending his 38-straight international freestyle match winning streak, the 24-year old got a nice $250,000 bonus from the Living the Dream Medal Fund. When asked what his future held, Burroughs sees more championships and medals on the horizon. If he continues to win gold, he might be in line to replace Phelps as the face of the USA Olympic team.

17-year-old champ Claressa Shields
17-year-old champ Claressa Shields
The United States has always had a strong history in the sport of boxing in the Olympic games. But lately it has been struggling, with the men's team failing to medal for the first time in history. With talk of creating different plans to revitalize America's dominance in boxing, there was pressure on the women to deliver. For the first time, women were allowed compete in boxing. Most of the attention before the games went to Marlen Esparza who appeared in various commercials leading into London. Esparza captured the bronze in the flyweight division, but the youngest member of the team, Claressa Shields, earned the gold. Shields has a classic underdog boxing story growing up in a tough neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. Despite her personal struggles, Shields became the first woman to win a gold medal in women's boxing and was the only gold medalist for USA boxing. She's only 17-years old but experts are already stating she's the new face of boxing in America. With Holly Holm being unknown outside of New Mexico, Shields could fill the void that Laila Ali once had. And with Shields being fairly young, she’d surely excel in future Olympics, although she may capitalize on her newfound fameand turn pro. But if Shields turns her sights to the 2016 Rio Games, USA boxing future may lie with the women instead of the men.

sports

Hangover Sports Roundup

Holly Holm gets revenge, Miami turns up the heat on Thunder

Holm lands one on Mathis
Photo by Chris Cozzone
Holm lands one on Mathis
Boxing

Who's says revenge isn't sweet? Holly Holm got some much need retribution in a unanimous-decision victory over Anne Sophie Mathis on Saturday night at the Route 66 Casino. In December, the pair fought a back-and-forth affair that saw Mathis getting the better of Holm with a seventh-round knockout. In the rematch, Holm used a strategy to outbox Mathis instead of engaging in a brawl to avoid getting knocked out. The gameplan may have not been the most crowd pleasing but it got the job done and impressed the judges to earn the 97-93, 96-94, 99-91 victory. Now the debate begins over what move Holm will make next. Along with being an accomplished boxer, she's also had success with mixed martial arts. Despite women's MMA being relatively new, the sport has already made some popular stars and Holm could be next if she makes the full transition. But in the meantime, Mathis will most likely request a rematch away from Albuquerque and in her home country of France. For now, Holm looks to enjoy some time off, but whatever decision Holm makes, the Burque boxing fans will be watching very closely.

LeBron and the Heat took a 2-1 lead over OKC on Sunday night.
LeBron and the Heat took a 2-1 lead over OKC on Sunday night.
NBA Finals

Lebron James has been declared the best player in the world by many NBA experts. James has every basketball ability any player dreams of. But when the NBA Finals began, everyone was quick to declare Kevin Durant the new king. Because of James' past inability to perform in the Finals, it has opened the door for Durant to become the league's best player. Despite tuning the media out with antics such as reading The Hunger Games prior to a big matchup, James seems to have taken his game to the next level by averaging 30 points during the 2012 Finals. In the critical game three, James put his finals nightmares behind him, scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He proved the reign of King James has perhaps only begun by hitting a clutch three in the fourth quarter and outplaying Kevin Durant.

Durant did have 26 points and 6 rebounds, but was in serious foul trouble throughout the game (just like in game two). The Thunder made a run in the fourth quarter to cut the Heat lead, but Miami scored the final seven points to prevent any Oklahoma City comeback. The 85-91 loss puts the Thunder in a 2-1 hole and makes game four a must win. Luckily for the Thunder, it’s been in this situation before, being down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. OKC will need to correct the mistakes if they are going to get back into the series. So far Durant has performed well in his first Finals appearance, but he'll have to find a way to outplay a more determined and focused Lebron James. Game might be the beginning of the King James era, or it may end before it even gets started.

In Memoriam

Johnny Tapia’s public memorial service

Johnny Tapia in his early 20s, when he was beginning his professional career and starting to make a name for himself nationally
Courtesy of Johnny Tapia
Johnny Tapia in his early 20s, when he was beginning his professional career and starting to make a name for himself nationally

On Sunday evening at The Pit, Burqueños will gather to honor Johnny Tapia. Viewing begins at 6:45 p.m. and the service is scheduled for 8 p.m.

In Memoriam

Albuquerque’s champion Johnny Tapia, revisited

“I’ll live and die here. This is my pride and joy, New Mexico.”

In November of 2003, the late, great Johnny Tapia welcomed the Alibi into his East Mountains home for a candid interview. The beloved brawler and Burque legend weighed in on topics including his relationships with Danny Romero and Mike Tyson, how family helped keep him afloat and what the broader picture of being a champion meant to him.

Former News Editor Tim McGivern's accompanying story fills in the gaps on how Tapia became the complex figure who overcame unimaginably tragic circumstances, yet always lived in the shadow of his horrific past. And Tapia's words ring with poignant prescience.

As for the Jerry Bruckheimer movie Tapia and McGivern discuss, Tapia's longtime friend Dennis Latta says that productionand several othersnever came to fruition. Latta mentions that a Tapia documentary is in the works that will include footage from his June victory over Mauricio PastranaTapia's last dance in the ring. Tapia died on Sunday, May 27, at the age of 45.

An interview with Johnny Tapia

Tim McGivern

Johnny Tapia loves his new house in the East Mountains. He calls it his castle and to satisfy his hyperactive personality he’s got plans to build a basketball court and swimming pool to go along with the modest boxing gym that fills-out his garage. Yet while Tapia, 36, has the energetic presence of a moth on a light, oddly, he says one of his favorite things to do is lock himself in his room, watch TV and “take my guard down.”

And that’s the mystery of Johnny Tapia. On one hand, he’s the friendliest and humblest guy you will ever meet. But on the other hand, he is a fragile figure, frightened by the tragedies of his past, who can shift gears from cheerfulness to sorrow to an intense seriousness at the drop of a hat.

The five-time world champion boxer wasn’t guarded about anything when Teresa Tapia, his wife and manager for the past 11 years, arranged for the Alibi to talk with him in his living room last Friday. In the fashion of a man who knows it can be good to be the king, Tapia sprawled back in his recliner at the start and said, “Why don’t you ask me anything you want.”

Heroic words for someone with Tapia’s tragic and checkered history. His father was reportedly murdered before he was born. He nearly died at age seven when a bus he was riding plunged off a cliff, killing the pregnant woman seated next to him and throwing him through the window.

To this day, he is haunted by the sound of his mother’s screams and his vision of her being chained in the bed of a pick-up truck the night she was kidnapped and violently murdered by her boyfriendback when he was just eight years old.

Singeli Agnew
Following the tragedy, he was raised by his grandmother in the Wells Park neighborhood, where he started boxing at the age of nine. From that point forward, Tapia slugged his way to two national Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, five world championships as a pro and when he wasn’t brawling in the ring, he was fighting perhaps a fiercer battle with the ghosts of his childhood and his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

For example, it took nearly 25 years for his mother’s murder case to be closed. And not until the summer of 1999 did Bernalillo County detectives identify the killer, Richard Espinosa, who had died in 1983. Just weeks after Tapia learned the news, he had to fight Paulie Ayala in what was considered by some boxing analysts to be one of the greatest fights in the past decade. Although the outcome was a questionable split decision, it marked Tapia’s first loss as a professional boxer in more than ten years.

Like a true survivor, less than a year later, on Jan. 8, 2000, Tapia won his fourth world title against bantamweight champion Jorge Eliecer Julio before a capacity crowd of 13,000 fans chanting “Johnny! Johnny!” at the Pit.

His ups and downs as a boxer, however, pale compared to his chaotic life outside the ring. He’ll tell you about his struggles to overcome addiction to cocainea drug he calls “my mistress”that has left him clinically dead four times and cost him several shots at a world title thanks to positive drug tests. His most recent overdose occurred this past January, when doctors and Teresa discussed funeral arrangements in a Las Vegas hospital just before Tapia revived himself and asked for a cheeseburger. “I was hungry,” he said in a recent New York Times interview. “I guess it wasn’t my time to die.”

His struggle with drugs and alcohol have led to a 125-page arrest record, including several DWI convictions, numerous stays in the Bernalillo County jail, numerous suspensions from professional boxing and getting kicked out of New Mexico for 18 months by a local judge.

His relationship with wife Teresathe fact that she has stuck with him through the tough timesis perhaps as remarkable as anything he ever accomplished in the ring. And he’ll be the first person to tell you that. After charges of spousal abuse, including pulling a loaded gun on her when he was high on cocaine, Teresa gave Johnny one last opportunity to get clean. She locked the two of them together in their home for more than a month, allowing her mother to pass them food through a barred window. That was almost 10 years ago and what at the time seemed like the final step toward recovery was just another hurdle in his never-ending battle to stay clean.

Johnny and Teresa Tapia
Singeli Agnew
Johnny and Teresa Tapia
Today Johnny and Teresa stay focused on the future, with one-eye always carefully monitoring Johnny’s daily battle with addiction. Their story is set to become a major motion picture in 2005; famed Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean) recently purchased the story rights and Johnny and Teresa will be paid consultants on the project.

Are you back in New Mexico forever?

Oh yeah, I was born and raised here and I’ll live and die here. This is my pride and joy, New Mexico.

Do you still look in the mirror, especially when you are in the gym, and see the baby-faced assassin?

No, because you know I’m going on 26 years in boxing and I’ve done everything you can do in the sport. I fought like a champion. I fought like a contender. I beat everybody. There’s a time and place when you gotta call it quits. I talk to my wife. I talk to my boy, and I just said, “You know what, I got a few more left, suck it up, do whatever it is going to take to keep it going.”

Are you going to fight Danny Romero again?

No, me and Danny are close. They made the whole rivalry bigger than what it was. You know, he’s a good guy. His father took very good care of me. You can’t go wrong with that. But (back then) I was struggling, using alcohol and cocaine, that was my mistress, you know, because of the tragedy that happened. But to your question: Me and Danny are very good friends. We always have been. It just happened we had to see who was the king of Albuquerque and that’s the situation that happened. He was just at my house today. …

Do you guys ever spar together?

No. I only spar two weeks before a fight. But we’re working, you know, helping each other grow bigger and better. He’s gonna be a champion again, you’ll see.

So because you guys are so close, you can’t see getting back in the ring with him, even if that’s the fight everyone wants to see?

I’ll tell you, we’re friends so there’s not gonna be no more fights. Whoever’s in the ring though, I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna hurt ’em. I got the skills to pay the bills, you know.

Singeli Agnew

A lot of kids in Albuquerque want to be like you. Kids that go to Jack Candelaria Community Center and work out in the boxing gym. What do you say to those kids when they are looking at you and they see their dreams?

It’s hard to be a world champion. But I tell them look at who you hang around with and that will tell you who you are. If you want big dreams don’t follow the leader. They don’t protect you and take care of you. If you look at what I’ve done, a lot of people look at my history and don’t see what I’ve accomplished. When you fall you have to pick yourself back up to be successful. I don’t want to be a living proof, but I’ll tell you when I was in a coma, it makes you stop and think about who are your friends. … There’s a lot of bullies here, and I can’t stand bullies. I cannot stand bullies. … I’d say I would rather have friends than enemies. I got a (surrogate) dad who loves me, cares about me as an alcoholic and drug addict, not because I’m a five-time world champion. The situation is, I’m not an every day user, I’m a binger. To me, you can ask me anything you want, because I would love to tell you, so people can hear it, so they can learn from my experience. Everyone knows Johnny Tapia, the champion, the crazy guy. But I’ve got a beautiful wife that sticks with me through thick and thin. She can’t stand me sometimes, but you know what? That’s part of the relationship.

What they call tough love.

I tell you one thing, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but I’ve taken her through hell. Every time I die, I wake up and she’s right there next to me. That’s why I tell you to feel free to ask me anything. Because if there is a 100 kids out there and I get one to listen, then that makes me feel good. Seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Talk a little more about your message to kids.

My message is don’t be a follower, be a leader. You know, the first time you do drugs it’s a mistake, second time it’s a habit. It’s easy to go one way or the other. If I want to mess up, I’ll do it. I don’t put the rap on nobody but myself. If I don’t go straight, I can get divorced and be out on the streets away from my family. But those are the people that I really hurtthe ones that love me the most.

That’s what keeps you straight?

It’s every day waking up with my wife and kids. I got my Pops calling me every day. I’m not a needy person. But when I was going back and forth, messing up (gets emotional, pauses for a moment). …

How do you define love?

I don’t know love. I lost everything I loved when I was small. But when my wife puts her arms around me, or my boy smiles at me tells me he loves me, Pops calls me and tells me he’s really proud of me in my recovery, that’s what’s important. … I used drugs and alcohol to kill the pain. When I was young I lost my mom, my father. It was hard.

What’s your definition of a champion?

I’m not anybody. I’m just a guy that has a lot of problems trying to fix myself. Everybody in the boxing game knows me as Johnny the champion. But boxing is easy for me. I’m a natural. When I do have problems it’s out of the ring. I’ve always had problems out in the streets, but I’m taking my sobriety seriously. And I’m able to stay straight. It’s a lonely world out there, you know.

And a lot of people admire you as a survivor.

To tell you the truth, if my wife doesn’t hug me, or say I love you, I’ll cry. I’m a big baby. In the ring, you gotta kill me. If you don’t drop me, or put me a stretcher, I’ll get up and throw. I love the one-on-one combat. Nobody can help me; nobody can help my opponent. You just have to do whatever it takes. I’ve always trained like I was going to fight Mike Tyson.

You’re friends with Tyson, right?

Oh, we’ve been partners since the ’80s. We roomed together in the Junior Olympics when we were teenagers.

Do you stay in touch?

I talked to him about six months ago.

Do you see him now as a tragic figure?

I’ll tell you one thing, back in the ’80s he was the best in the world. But, you know, when you come into a lot of money really quickly, you run into a lot of yes-people. I’m not that kind of person. I’d rather you talk to me from your heart and say how you feel. (Teresa tells the story here of the last time Tyson called. It was just after Tapia awoke from a drug-induced coma in January. Tyson called to tell Tapia to see a psychiatrist or go to an institution, telling him he was crazy and needed help. Teresa recalled Tyson saying “I know I’m crazy too, so I’m authorized to tell you to get help.”) He’s a beautiful, intelligent person, who just got screwed up and now is just a money figure. You can have fame in two ways: You can have everybody saying yes, or you can have fame and still be around real people. A name will take you a long way, but money is very powerful. The real people will be right next to you through thick and thin. You find out who they are when you fall down. Without my fans, I won’t be where I am today. They have always supported and guided me in ways that they don’t even know.

I guess you’ve had a tough time deciding who you want to hang around with.

The truth is, sometimes it’s not about people that want to be with you, it’s about what they can get out of you. So you have to figure out who’s your friend and who’s not. I can go right now to Wal-Mart and sign autographs for an hour and a half and people there will be my friends. I can call my wife and my Pops and they’ll be there for me to hold me.

What will you do when you’re done boxing?

I’m going to call the pharmacist and tell them I want to be able to have four kids at one time (laughs). No, you know, if there’s a 100 kids out there and I can get one to listen, then that’s my job. I love to help people.

You want to work with youth?

If they call me, I’ll try to help. But I love being at home. This is my castle. This is my peace.

Being bored when you are a hyper guy can get you into trouble, right?

You know what, when stuff like that happens, I’ll call my wife and Pops. You know what really makes me happy, staying in my room. It’s all about keeping my life sober, getting my kids to go to college, explaining to kids and others that the way I went wasn’t the right way. College is very important. I wish I could have went to college. But you know what? I can’t complain. I’ve got food on the table and a beautiful wife that loves me; my boy’s as hyper as I am. But it’s not just that. I love to be in a room locked up, just a place to take my guard down. I enjoy that.

One last question about the new movie deal you signed.

Guess who’s playing me? Either Don Knotts or Gilligan (everyone laughs). Got you guys, huh? (Tapia’s smiling) Or, either Jerry Lewis.

Whoever it is, I hope they do a good job.

Yeah, me too.

V.21 No.2 | 1/12/2012

Council Watch

100 Birthday Spankings for New Mexico

President William H. Taft signed the proclamation declaring New Mexico the 47th state on Jan. 6, 1912.

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news

The Daily Word in election results, in-flight porn and waking up gay

Election news: Mississippi voters reject the scary Personhood Amendment. While voters in Ohio threw-out the governor's anti-union law and Kentucky's Democratic governor was re-elected.

Letter circulating around Socorro promises mass casualties on Friday.

Herman Cain affiliated PAC calls one of his accusers an ugly bitch.

R.I.P. to the overweight lover Heavy D.

Animal abuse caught on tape at Tingley Beach.

Occupy Denver finally has a leader.

Under pressure, Facebook removes rape-joke pages.

Does job retraining actually work?

Rugby player has a stroke, wakes up gay.

It's the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV.

Most brutal boxing picture ever.

Thank God for the world's first alcohol-free whiskey, and the world's first beer for dogs.

Local historian in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod fills his house with mummified female corpses.

Irish airline Ryanair to add in-flight porn for passengers.

The eight cheapest houses in America.

Live 1989 Nirvana set unearthed.

Brett Ratner resigns as Academy Awards producer after interview on Howard Stern.

The Fresh Prince pranks a Christian talk show.

I wish space junk, was as sexy as it sounds.

Mars rover Opportunity discovers a discovers the Holy Grail of its mission.

YES! Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris join the cast of The Expendables 2.

Happy Birthday Ed Wynn!!!

Thanks for the links E!

Film

Fantastic Fest Day 3

The annual Fantastic Fest film festival is taking place in Austin this week. It’s the largest genre-based film festival in the United States. We sent special correspondent Brennan Foster to hunt down the weirdest films, the coolest parties and the biggest star sightings he could find.

Knuckle covers twelve years in a bitter family feud between three Irish traveler clansthe Quinn McDonaghs, Joyces and Nevins. Travelers live on the margins, facing discrimination and poverty. They don’t turn to the law for solutions; problems get sorted with bare knuckle fistfights, sometimes for pots between 30 and 60,000 Euros.  

When director Ian Palmer met James Quinn McDonagh and his brother, he was the hired videographer for a family wedding. They asked him to tape training footage for an upcoming fight. Mr. Palmer agreed and was soon drawn into the Quinn McDonaghs’ lives, compelled to find the reason behind their rivalry.    

If you want action, this documentary shows a decade’s worth of bloody fistfights, or “fair fights.” The audience can track the fighters as they grow older and see how the pride and fury that fuels them gets passed through generations. Sons step up for fallen fathers; cousin fights cousin; grandfather fights grandfather(!). Only James, over the course of 12 years, stands undefeated. 

It’s an engrossing and brutal movie, with an outcome yet to be determined. Just imagine: The travelers have lived in poverty for over seven centuries; the Quinn McDonaghs and Joyces claim the bitterness between them goes back at least 50 years. Even though James now regrets fighting, how can his opinion stop a tradition? The film does a good job showing the heredity of conflict. Maybe the enmity between Quinn McDonaghs and Joyces speaks to larger immutable conflicts like Palestine and Israel, Serbs and Croats.

Or even, indeed, Elves and Orcs.

This year, Knuckle sponsored the annual “Fantastic Debates” at the South Austin Gym. The debates begin at the podiums and end in the ring. The fight of the night was Elijah Wood facing off against Dominic Monaghan in an epic “Frodo”wn over World of Warcraft’s worth. Dominic, fighting for the pro-WoW faction, handily won the match, hammering on his fellow hobbit like Floyd “Merry”weather, Jr.  

Of course, with Mr. Wood arguing for The Legend of Zelda, could any other outcome be expected? See the outtakes below; their part begins around 0:50.

Play Youtube Video
Video credit Arts & Labor-- Produced by Gates Bradley and Erik Horn.

More Videos

V.20 No.23 | 6/9/2011
Johnny Tapia promised his Saturday, June 4 fight against Colombian Mauricio Pastrana was his last. It was Tapia’s 66  th   bout as a pro.
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

Boxing

The Real Addiction

Johnny Tapia says he’s finished in the ring. Is he?

It’s hard for Tapia to get clean from boxing when 2,000 people are screaming his name. And yet all week long, before Saturday’s fight with Mauricio Pastrana of Colombia, Tapia talked in interviews with the Alibi of pulling the curtain on mi vida loca.

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