The news here in Albuquerque is yesterday’s big funeral for deceased boxer Johnny Tapia. A legendary local figure, almost 7,000 people attended a spirited memorial service for him held at the UNM Arena, a.k.a. The Pit.
One interesting thing about this outpouring of public connection: no one questioned that there would be some sort of memorial service. Even though the man had his demons and flaws, he was much-beloved by fans, friends, and family.
His theme, Mi Vida Loca, “my crazy life,” pretty much summed up his roller coaster existence, between drugs and legal problems to athletic triumphs and charitable acts. His charisma and concern for others drew many to this unique memorial service.
His casket was positioned in the middle of a boxing ring set up in the arena. Boxing gloves and roses adorned the top of the casket, and photos of him in action in the ring were displayed along the sides. He was a boxing champion who held five world titles. Former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson was a speaker, and video tributes came in from other boxing greats and event promoters around the world.
Read the full story in The Albuquerque Journal.
You don’t have to be a Johnny Tapia to have people wanting to celebrate and remember your life. Yet so many people say, “I don’t want a funeral,” or the family says they’ll only remember the deceased among themselves. That’s a very selfish point of view.
Funerals are for community, not just immediate family. We impact people far beyond our sphere of knowing. When we exit this earthly plane, community wants to come together to recognize the loss, remember the deceased, reaffirm our beliefs, and release the spirit of the deceased.
The community needs to come together to mark such passages, just as people gather to celebrate weddings and births. Don’t deny your community the chance to celebrate your life and mourn your passing.