Tommy David Morrison (born January 2, 1969, Jay, Oklahoma) is a former heavyweight boxing champion. Dubbed "The Duke," he is the grandnephew of Hollywood star John Wayne. Morrison also co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky V." Morrison lost a championship bout to Lennox Lewis in 1996, but nevertheless signed a three-fight deal with Don King that was supposed to lead to a Morrison-Mike Tyson showdown. That deal, says Morrison, was to pay him $38 million. Then came the positive test, which Morrison estimates cost him, over the past decade, some $100 million total in potential fight revenues. Morrison tested positive for HIV in 1996. It is still unclear on how he contracted the disease. Morrison's life would take a steep downward spiral, one that included jail time for drug charges and HIV-related discrimination, in which fellow gym members canceled their memberships once his HIV news became public and close friends abandoned him because of his illness. Morrison has made allegations in the past-two other boxers tested positive for HIV but their results were never made public.


In 1991, Morrison, already the receiver of much television exposure, won four fights, against opponents the calibre of former Larry Holmes world title challenger and Tyson opponent James Quick Tillis, and former world champion Pinklon Thomas. He was then given a crack at becoming world Heavyweight champion by WBO champ Ray Mercer in a Pay Per View card held on October 18 1991. 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 would later become the first Native American to challenge for the world Heavyweight title. After 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. Morrison surprised 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.

Talks of a Morrison-Lewis fight, however, momentarily came to a stop because Morrison was himself upset in his first defense by the virtually unknown Michael Bennett, 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 subsequently drew in his last fight of the year, against another virtual unknown, Ross Puritty.

He won three fights in 1995 before meeting Razor Ruddock for the IBC Heavyweight Championship. 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 round one 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 stopped Morrison in six rounds.

A few days before his next fight, to be shown on Showtime, Morrison had a mandatory HIV test performed by the Nevada Athletic Commission. It was revealed during Showtime's telecast of the boxing undercard that Morrison's HIV test proved positive, automatically retiring him from boxing as a competitor.

Later in 1996, Morrison announced that he wished to make a comeback with one more bout, the proceeds of which would benefit his newly created KnockOut Aids Foundation. Morrison won what would turn out to be his final fight, a first round knockout of Marcus Rhode in Tokyo. Morrison finished his boxing career with a record of 46 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw, with 40 of his wins by knockout.

After his retirement, Morrison spent 14 months in prison on drug and weapons charges, and he would later also plead guilty to drunk driving.

He and his wife have 4 children; they currently live in rural White County, Tennessee, where he is seeking a return to acting, and doesn't rule out the possibility of fighting again. He is currently penning his autobiography and has recently signed a deal that would see a movie produced on his life.

Sources: Mike Freeman @ CBS Sportsline & Wikipedia



return to top