Tommy Morrison

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Name: Tommy Morrison
Alias: The Duke
Birth Name: Tommy David Morrison
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Birthplace: Gravette, Arkansas, USA
Died: 2013-09-01 (Age:44)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 188cm
Reach: 193cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Career Review

Tommy Morrison was a heavyweight boxer best remembered for his acting role in Rocky V and the fact that he tested HIV-positive. He was often categorised as a "Great White Hope."

Morrison was the father of Trey Lippe Morrison and James Kenzie Witt-Morrison, brother of fellow heavyweight boxer Tim Morrison and claimed to be the nephew (some sources report great-nephew) of actor John Wayne, whose birth name was Marion Robert Morrison. However, in an interview, Wayne's son Patrick said, "I really don't know if he's related to us or not. But if he keeps winning, I'd have to say, sure, he's my dad's nephew."

At age 13, Morrison began forging ID papers to enter local Toughman competitions in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. He said he won 20 fights and lost only one.

As an amateur boxer, Morrison won the Kansas City Golden Gloves and fought Ray Mercer at the 1988 Olympic Trials, losing by decision. Morrison claimed an amateur record of 222-20.

Early in his professional career, Morrison co-starred in the 1990 movie Rocky V, playing Rocky Balboa protege Tommy Gunn.

Morrison, with a record of 28-0, fought Ray Mercer for the WBO heavyweight title in October 1991. Morrison won the first three rounds, but he started to fade in the fourth and was brutally knocked out in the fifth.

After eight straight knockout wins, Morrison fought George Foreman for the vacant WBO heavyweight title in June 1993. Morrison outboxed Foreman and won by a twelve-round unanimous decision.

In a big upset, Morrison lost the title to Michael Bentt by a first-round knockout in October 1993.

In July 1994, Morrison was dropped twice by journeyman Ross Puritty and held to a ten-round draw.

Morrison fought Razor Ruddock for the IBC heavyweight title in June 1995. Morrison rose from a first-round knockdown to stop Ruddock in six rounds.

In October 1995, Morrison was stopped in six rounds by Lennox Lewis.

Morrison was scheduled to fight Arthur Weathers in Las Vegas in February 1996, but the fight was cancelled after Morrison tested HIV-positive. He retired from boxing but returned in November 1996, saying, "HIV cannot be spread in the ring." Morrison stopped Marcus Rhode in two rounds in Japan, where there were no rules prohibiting an HIV-positive boxer from fighting.

In 1996, Morrison was sentenced to six months in prison for drunk driving. He returned to prison in 2000 and served fourteen months on drug and weapons charges.

Morrison returned to boxing in 2007, saying he never had HIV. He said he was a victim of a false-positive test or a conspiracy by a rival promoter. Morrison also claimed that HIV was a conspiracy by the government.

Morrison received a boxing license in West Virginia after passing a series of medical tests in Arizona, the results of which were forwarded to West Virginia. In February 2007, Morrison knocked out John Castle in two rounds in Chester, West Virginia.

When Morrison applied for a license in Texas, he initially presented bloodwork that had been done in Arizona, the same paperwork that West Virginia used to grant him a boxing license. But because of Morrison's HIV history, Patrick Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, said Texas asked him to do additional tests in an in-state lab familiar to the commission.

When the written results didn't arrive in the hours before Morrison's scheduled bout, the fight was cancelled. A few days later, Morrison withdrew his request for a license in Texas.

Asked if it was odd that Morrison would withdraw a license request that would be good for a year, Shaughnessy said, "It's unusual."

Randy Lang, Morrison's former agent, lodged accusations of possible blood tampering and fraud and said Morrison tested positive for HIV as late as January 2007.

In June 2007, Morrison made his MMA debut. Since the fight was being held at the Yavapai-Apache Nation reservation -- outside the Arizona State Boxing Commission's jurisdiction -- Morrison did not need a blood test. He stopped his opponent in the first round.

Morrison's last fight was a third-round knockout of Matt Weishaar in Mexico, where blood tests were not required.

Morrison attempted to fight in Montreal in February 2011, but refused the boxing commission's request to undergo testing at an approved Montreal institution with a member of the commission present. Morrison asked that the commission provide him with proof of positive test results for HIV from 1996 and invited the commission to send a doctor to a press conference with an unopened test that detects the presence of the HIV virus.

The Montreal fight was cancelled and Morrison said, “We’ll take the dog and pony show somewhere else.”

In August 2013, Morrison's mother told a senior writer with that her son had full-blown AIDS. "He's too far gone," she said. "He's in the end stages. That's it."

Tommy Morrison died on September 1, 2013 at a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. According to his death certificate, he died from cardiac arrest stemming from a blood infection known as Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Septicemia, which is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected patients.

External Links

"Cayton's Corner Attracts Rising Heavyweight Puncher" by Phil Berger, New York Times, May 3, 1989
"Born to Fight: The Tommy Morrison Chronicles", February 2, 2004
"Morrison medically cleared to fight Thursday" by Dan Rafael,, February 20, 2007
"Morrison faces new allegations from former associate" by Elizabeth Merrill,, June 10, 2007
"Morrison says no to testing" by Dave Spencer,, January 19, 2011
"Tommy Morrison's latest big fight" by Elizabeth Merrill,, August 23, 2013
"Tommy Morrison Death Certificate -- No Mention of AIDS" TMZ, September 5, 2013

Preceded by:
Michael Moorer
WBO Heavyweight Champion
1993 Jun 7 – 1993 Oct 29
Succeeded by:
Michael Bentt