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Tommy Morrison

Tommy Morrison (born January 2, 1969) in Jay, Oklahoma, is a former boxer who was world Heavyweight champion. Morrison has had a troubled life outside the ropes of the boxing ring. His nickname is The Duke, and he is the grandnephew of Hollywood star John Wayne.

Morrison started boxing professionally November 10, 1988, with a first round knockout of William Muhammad[?] in New York City. Twenty days later, he scored another first round knockout win.

In 1989, Morrison had 19 wins, 15 by knockout. Among the fighters beaten were former Mike Tyson opponents Lorenzo Boyd[?], Dave Jaco[?] and Lorenzo Canady[?], as well as former George Foreman opponents Steve Zouski[?] and Ken Lakusta[?].

His biggest breakthrough, however, came in 1990, and it wasn't directly related to his boxing career: During one of his 1989 fights, Sylvester Stallone was a spectator, and he was looking for an actor to oppose him in Rocky V. After seeing Morrison, he arranged for Morrison to have a script reading, and Morrison went to Los Angeles, where he was cast as Tommy Gunn in the movie. While Morrison did win two fights in 1990, it was when Rocky V was released in December of that year that he gained mainstream popularity.

In 1991, Morrison, already the receiver of much television exposure, won four fights before being given a world championship try. Among the fighters he beat were former Larry Holmes world title challenger and Tyson opponent James Quick Tillis[?], and former world champion Pinklon Thomas[?]. In his first gala boxing event, Morrison was given a crack at becoming world Heavyweight champion by WBO champ Ray Mercer in a Pay Per View card held on October 18 of '91. Morrison lost what turned out to be a highlight film knockout in round five.

Morrison had six wins in 1992, including one over former Riddick Bowe opponent Art Tucker[?], and one over future world title challenger Joe Hipp[?], who later became the first Indian to challenge for the world's Heavyweight title. After having two wins in 1993, including one over two time former world title challenger Carl Williams[?], Morrison found himself fighting for the world championship again, this time against Foreman, On June 7, of that year. Morrison upset many critics by outpointing Foreman over 12 rounds, winning the world title. Almost immediately, talks of a fight with WBC world champion Lennox Lewis began, although it would not have been a unification bout, because the WBC has always refused to have diplomatical relations with the WBO.

Talks of a Morrison-Lewis fight, however, momentarily came to a stop because Morrison was himself upset in his first defense by virtually unknown Michael Bentt[?], being knocked out in round one in front of a live HBO Boxing audience.

He recovered by winning three bouts in a row in 1994, but then, he drew in his last fight of the year, against another virtual unknown, Ross Puritty[?], in a fight televised by USA Network's USA Tuesday Night Fights.

He won three fights in 1995 before meeting Razor Ruddock[?] on Pay Per View for a marginal title. This fight was named fight of the year by various magazines, as Morrison dropped Ruddock several times, but had to climb off the canvas in rounds three and five himself before scoring a sixth round knockout win.

The fight with Lewis, who had also lost his world championship, finally came off after the fight against Ruddock. Lewis knocked Morrison out in six rounds, and then, after moving to HBO's rival Showtime, Morrison won what would turn out to be his final fight, a first round knockout of Marcus Rhodes[?] on Showtime's SET pay per view[?] channel, in Tokyo.

A few days before his next fight, to be shown on Showtime's regular cable network, Morrison had an HIV test done by the Nevada state athletic commision, which keeps strict guard of their competitors' health. It was revealed during Showtime's telecast of the boxing undercard, that Morrison was on a flight back to Oklahoma City, place that he had made his home for most of his life, after tests revealed he was HIV-positive, automatically retiring him from boxing as a competitor.

Morrison had several problems adjusting to reality after these new, startling developments in his life happened. He confronted alcohol problems and had several run-ins with the law, being sent to jail more than once.

He was last reported to be in good health apart from his HIV diagnosis, and he entered an alcoholic recovery program.

Morrison declared to Sports Illustrated that he has contacted Stallone about working in the possible production of Rocky VI, and he has said he wants to pursue a career in acting.

He had a record of 46 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw as a boxer, with 40 wins by knockout



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