Boxer Tommy Morrison dies — supposedly not from AIDS

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Tommy Morrison was quite the physical specimen in his day. Credit: Getty Images
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Tommy Morrison was quite the physical specimen in his day.
Credit: Getty Images

If you followed the saga of boxer Tommy Morrison, you might not be surprised to hear that the former heavyweight champion died Sunday night at just 44 years old.

Morrison beat the legendary George Foreman on June 7, 1993 to win the vacant WBO Heavyweight title. Foreman was well past his prime at that point, attempting one of his many comebacks, at age 44.

Morrison lost the title just four months later to Michael Bentt, who knocked him down three times — and out — in the first round.

But Morrison’s fame was also established in 1989 when he starred in “Rocky V” as the main character’s protege, Tommy “The Machine” Gunn (what a fortuitous last name!) The two eventually end up in a street brawl and (24-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT!) Rocky beats the crap out of him. Please, enjoy:

Morrison’s life got a lot more complicated when he failed an HIV test in 1996 before fighting Arthur Weathers. He admitted to living a “reckless” lifestyle. The fight was canceled and Morrison never fought a noteworthy bout again. (He fought two more in 2007 and 2008, though both are questionable in legitimacy; one was in Mexico.)

But Morrison claimed, right up until his death, that the result was a false positive. He even took multiple HIV tests in 2007, all of which were negative. It’s a whole lot more complicated though, with reports the blood wasn’t actually his and that he failed not just one test in 1996, but multiple tests after that. The New York Times did an in-depth story on Morrison when he tried to make a comeback in 2007, and ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” did as well.

His wife said he had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, not AIDS. Like I said, complicated. All we know now is that Morrison was bed-ridden for months and died of major organ failure. An autopsy will reportedly be done.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. Rocky throws quite the uppercut, doesn’t he? He can knock someone out just by whiffing by a foot.


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