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Tommy Morrison

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Tommy Morrison
Tommy Morrison 2011
Biographical information
Birthname:
Thomas Morrison
Nationality:
American
Nickname:
The Duke, Tommy Gunn (character from Rocky V film)
Height:
6'2" (1.88 cm)
Reach:
76" (196 cm)
Weight class
Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight
Born:
January 2, 1969
in Gravette, Arkansas, United States
Boxing career information
Style/Boxing Stance:
Orthodox
Career record:
52 total bouts, 48 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw, 42 KO's, 0 no contests

Tommy Morrison born January 2, 1969, is an American heavyweight boxer and a former World Boxing Organization champion. He lost only three out of a total of 52 professional fights. Morrison's nickname, "The Duke," is based on disputed claims that he is a grandnephew of Hollywood star John Wayne.[1] Morrison was a co-star with Sylvester Stallone in the 1990 boxing movie Rocky V.

Morrison's professional boxing career ended for many years when he tested positive for HIV in 1996. Beginning in 2006, Morrison attempted a comeback, stating he did not have HIV.

Morrison has had multiple convictions for driving under the influence, assault, and drugs and weapons charges.

Amateur boxingEdit

Tommy Morrison was born in Gravette, Arkansas. At the urging of his father, Morrison, who was raised in Delaware County, Oklahoma and a Scottish-American, and whose older brother and two uncles were boxers, began boxing locally at the age of ten. Beginning at the age of 13, Morrison entered fifteen "toughman" contests using a fake ID (the minimum age for contestants was 21). He told The New York Times that he lost only one of these contests.[2]

In 1988, Morrison won the Regional Heavyweight Title – Kansas City Golden Gloves from Donald Ellis and advanced to the National Golden Gloves in Omaha, Nebraska, where he lost a split decision to Derek Isaman. Two weeks later, Morrison took part in the Western Olympic trials in Houston, Texas winning the Heavyweight Title and garnishing the "Most Outstanding Fighter" of the tournament. Two weeks after that at the Olympic Trials, held in Concord, California, Morrison lost a split decision to Ray Mercer, who would go on to win the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. Morrison's combined professional and amateur record is 343–24–1, with 315 wins by knockout.

Professional boxingEdit

Morrison started his professional boxing career on November 10, 1988, with a first-round knockout of William Muhammad in New York City. Three weeks later, he scored another first-round knockout. In 1989, Morrison had 19 wins and no losses, 15 by knockout.

In 1991, Morrison, already the recipient of much television exposure, won fights against opponents James Quick Tillis and former world champion Pinklon Thomas. He was given an opportunity to face fellow undefeated fighter Ray Mercer, the WBO title holder in a Pay Per View card held on October 18, 1991. Morrison suffered the first loss of his career, losing by 5th round knockout. Morrison had six wins in 1992, including fights with Art Tucker and Joe Hipp, who would later become the first Native American to challenge for the world heavyweight title. In the Hipp fight, held June 19, 1992, Morrison was suffering from what was later discovered to be a broken hand and broken jaw, but rallied to score a knockout in the ninth round. After two wins in 1993, including one over two-time world title challenger Carl "The Truth" Williams, Morrison found himself fighting for the WBO title again, against heavyweight boxing legend George Foreman, who was himself making a comeback. As both men were famed for their punching power, an exciting battle was expected, but Morrison chose to avoid brawling with Foreman and spent the fight boxing from long range. Morrison was able to hit and move effectively in this manner, and after a closely contested bout he won a unanimous 12-round decision and the WBO title.

Morrison's first title defense was scheduled against Mike Williams, but when Williams withdrew on the night of the fight, Tim Tomashek stood in as a replacement. Although Tomashek had been prepared to fight as a backup plan, some news reports created the impression that he had just been pulled out of the crowd.[3] The WBO later rescinded their sanctioning of this fight due to Tomashek's lack of experience. Almost immediately, talks of a fight with WBC champion Lennox Lewis began, but were halted when virtually unknown Michael Bentt upset Morrison in his next bout. Bentt knocked Morrison down three times, and the fight was stopped in the first round in front of a live HBO Boxing audience. Morrison recovered by winning three bouts in a row in 1994, but his last fight of the year, against Ross Puritty, ended with a draw.

Morrison won three fights in 1995 before meeting former #1 contender Razor Ruddock. Ruddock dropped Morrison to his knees in the first round, but Morrison recovered to force a standing count in round two and compete on even terms for five rounds. In the sixth round, Ruddock hurt Morrison with a quick combination, but just as it seemed Morrison was in trouble, he countered with a tremendous hook that put Ruddock on the canvas. Ruddock regained his feet, but Morrison drove him to the ropes and showered him with an extended flurry of blows. Just as the bell was about to sound, the referee stepped in and declared Morrison the winner by TKO.

The much-anticipated fight with Lewis, who had also lost his world championship, finally took place following the Ruddock match. Morrison was knocked out in the sixth round.

HIVEdit

In February 1996, shortly before a scheduled fight against Arthur Weathers, the Nevada Athletic Commission determined that Morrison had tested positive for HIV.[4] The Commission suspended Morrison from boxing in Nevada.<rer>[Morrison Plans One More Fight Despite His H.I.V. Diagnosis, New York Times article, by Selena Roberts, September 20, 1996.</ref> Several days later, Morrison's physician administered a test, which was also positive.[5] At a news conference on February 15, 1996, Morrison said he had contracted HIV because of a "permissive, fast, and reckless lifestyle".[6] Morrison stated that he would "absolutely" never fight again.[7]

At another news conference on September 19, 1996, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Morrison announced he wished to fight "one last time" when he could find an opponent, the proceeds of which would benefit his KnockOut Aids Foundation.[8] A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Professional Boxing Advisory Board said Morrison would probably not be permitted to fight in Oklahoma because of his Nevada suspension.[9]

To treat his infection, Morrison said he took antiretroviral medication, which reduced his viral load to almost undetectable levels.[10]

In 2006, Morrison said his HIV tests had been false positives.[11] The Nevada commission's medical advisory board reviewed Morrison's 1996 test results and concluded they were "ironclad and unequivocal."[12] Morrison said he tried to get a copy of the original test result but was unable to do so: "I don't think it ever existed."[13]The Commission said Morrison could "contact the laboratory, and they would immediately release the results to him."[14]

Beginning in 2007, Morrison began fighting again.[15][16][17] After passing medical tests in Arizona, West Virginia licensed Morrison to fight in the state, and in February 2007 he fought and beat John Castle.[18][19] The Kansas City Star described his early 2009 fight in Wyoming as a "staged" event and a "fake fight."[20]

Morrison tested negative for HIV four times in January 2007.[21] On July 22, 2007, the New York Times reported that Morrison took two HIV tests in 2007 plus a third specifically for the Times.[22] HIV experts reviewed the three tests and concluded that the 1996 result had been a false positive. However, ringside doctors expressed doubt, implying that the negative results were not in fact based on Morrison's blood. The experts agreed that no one is ever cured of HIV.[23] In January 2011, the RACJ, the boxing commission for Quebec, required that Morrison take a supervised HIV test in advance of a scheduled 2011 fight. Morrison declined to take the test because he said it would be the same kind of test administered by Nevada in 1996. Instead, Morrison invited the Quebec commission to attend a public test, but the commission did not come.[24] Morrison stated that if Quebec refused to license him, he would "take the dog and pony show somewhere else."[25]

Film roleEdit

Tommy Morrison-Rocky V

Morrison as Tommy "Machine" Gunn in Rocky V

In 1989, Sylvester Stallone observed one of Morrison's bouts. Stallone arranged a script reading and cast Morrison in the movie Rocky V as Tommy "Machine" Gunn,[26] [27] a young and talented protege of the retired Rocky Balboa. Originally an admirer of Rocky, Gunn's successes led him to goad Rocky into a street fight.

Legal problemsEdit

In December 1993, Morrison was charged with assault and public intoxication when he allegedly punched a University of Iowa student. Morrison said that the student had been staring at him.[28] Morrison pled guilty and paid a $310 fine but said he was innocent.[29] In October 1996, Morrison pled guilty to transporting a loaded firearm in Jay, Oklahoma; he received a 6-month suspended sentence and a $100 fine.[30] In 1997, an Oklahoma jury convicted him of DUI in an accident that left three people injured; the court ordered Morrison to spend time in treatment.[31]

In September 1999, Morrison was given a 2-year suspended sentence for a DUI in Oklahoma.[32] On September 16, 1999, the police stopped Morrison for driving erratically and found drugs and weapons in his car, which resulted in various drug and firearms charges.[32] While awaiting trial on the September 16 charges, Morrison was again arrested on charges of intoxication and possessing a weapon while a felon in November 1999.[32] On January 14, 2000, Morrison was sentenced to two years in prison on the September 16 charges.[33] On April 3, 2002, he was sentenced to another year in prison after violating parole in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but was given credit for time previously served.[34]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Doom Comes Whipping Down Plain New York Daily News article, 14 February 1996, by Vic Ziegel.
  2. Cayton's Corner Attracts Rising Heavyweight Puncher, by Phil Berger for the New York Times, 3 May 1989.
  3. Doghouse Boxing. Doghouse Boxing (2004-02-04). Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
  4. A New Fight : After Second HIV Test Is Positive, Reflective Morrison Takes Blame, Los Angeles Times article, by Steve Springer, February 16, 1996, accessed June 9, 2012.
  5. A New Fight : After Second HIV Test Is Positive, Reflective Morrison Takes Blame, Los Angeles Times article, by Steve Springer, February 16, 1996, accessed June 9, 2012.
  6. A New Fight : After Second HIV Test Is Positive, Reflective Morrison Takes Blame, Los Angeles Times article, by Steve Springer, February 16, 1996, accessed June 9, 2012.
  7. A New Fight : After Second HIV Test Is Positive, Reflective Morrison Takes Blame, Los Angeles Times article, by Steve Springer, February 16, 1996, accessed June 9, 2012.
  8. Morrison wants final fight to help children with AIDS, The Toronto (CAN) Star, September 20, 1996.
  9. Morrison wants final fight to help children with AIDS, The Toronto (CAN) Star, September 20, 1996.
  10. For Tommy, Life Has Been Rocky Stands Tall After Virus Scores TKO, by Tim Smith for the New York Daily News, November 7, 2001, accessed June 9, 2012.
  11. Morrison faces new allegations from former associate, ESPN Boxing article, ESPNgo.com, June 10, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  12. Morrison fights claims of recent positive HIV test, by Chuck Johnson for USA Today, June 22, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  13. Morrison fights claims of recent positive HIV test, by Chuck Johnson for USA Today, June 22, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  14. Morrison fights claims of recent positive HIV test, by Chuck Johnson for USA Today, June 22, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  15. The Great White Hope climbs back between the ropes, The (UK) Guardian, February 23, 2007, by Oliver Irish, London, England, accessed July 1, 2009.
  16. ESPN.com Boxing story, by Dan Rafael for ESPNgo.com, February 20, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  17. ESPN.com Boxing news story, by Dan Rafael for ESPNgo.com, February 23, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  18. ESPN.com Boxing story, by Dan Rafael for ESPNgo.com, February 20, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  19. The Great White Hope climbs back between the ropes, The (UK) Guardian, February 23, 2007, by Oliver Irish, London, England, accessed July 1, 2009.
  20. Morrison insists he can box and doesn't have HIV, by Sam Mellinger for the Kansas City Star February 13, 2011.]
  21. Morrison tests negative for HIV, fight delayed, BoxingScene.com article, by Mark Vester, January 15, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  22. Morrison Says Error in H.I.V. Test Hurt Career, by John Eligon and Duff Wilson for the New York Times, July 22, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  23. Morrison Says Error in H.I.V. Test Hurt Career, by John Eligon and Duff Wilson for the New York Times, July 22, 2007, accessed June 9, 2012.
  24. [http://www.theboxingexaminer.com/2011/01/20/morrison-fight-in-jeopardy-over-blood-test/ Morrison fight in jeopardy over blood test, by J.F. Emond Jeffrey, for TheBoxingExaminer.com, January 20, 2011, accessed June 9, 2012 (Dead link, July 2012).
  25. Morrison says no to testing, Fightnews.com article, by Dave Spencer, January 19, 2011, accessed June 9, 2012.
  26. Rocky V' Has Drama Coaches in Its Corner : Film: Acting teachers are traditionally barred from movie sets. But for Stallone's latest boxing epic, a Studio City couple was allowed to show newcomer Tommy Morrison the ropes, scene by scene and blow by blow.
  27. LA Times article: Entertainment: Tommy Morrison, November 16, 1990, by Gary Klein, accessed October 29, 2010.
  28. Morrison KOs student in restaurant, Baltimore Sun, by the Associated Press (AP) December 8, 1993.
  29. (Tommy) Morrison pleads guilty to assault, Tulsa (OK) World, January 28, 1994.
  30. More Boxing, Orlando Sentinel news article, October 29, 1996.
  31. T. Morrison In Trouble Again CBS News story (CBSNews.com), February 11, 2009, accessed June 10, 2012 (via Associated Press).
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named cbs021109
  33. Morrison's release delayed because of discipline problem, AP Online, by Melissa Nelson, January 19, 2001.]
  34. Events in Tommy Morrison’s boxing career, Kansas City Star, February 13, 2011.]

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