Tommy Morrison, boxer and “Rocky V” star, dies at 44

September 2, 2013

Tommy Morrison, a former heavyweight boxing champion who perhaps was more famous for playing Tommy Gunn in “Rocky V,” died Sunday night in Omaha at the age of 44.

Tommy Morrison lost to Lennox Lewis in late 1995. Several month later, his boxing license was suspended for medical reasons. (Donna Connor / AP)
Tommy Morrison lost to Lennox Lewis in late 1995 and, several months later, his license was suspended. (Donna Connor / AP)

His former promoter, Tony Holden, confirmed Morrison’s death to the Tulsa World. “It’s true,” Holden told the World. “He was with his wife Trisha when he passed.” The cause of death has not been released, but ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Merrill reported last week that Morrison, who had tested positive for HIV when he was 27, was in declining health and on a ventilator and feeding tube.

As an up-and-coming fighter in 1989, Morrison was cast as Tommy “The Machine” Gunn, in “Rocky V.” He added to his legend by winning the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title in 1993 with a 12-round victory over George Foreman. But less than three years later, his license was suspended when he tested positive for HIV.

His son, Tim, told Merrill that he hoped his family would be remembered for the excitement he brought to the sport, rather than for his downfall.

“Try being 20 and a millionaire,” Tim Morrison said. “You’re not always going to make the most wise decisions. Tommy was way too young to have all the money and fame that he had. That was his whole problem.

“He had the world by the [tail]. And he blew it.”

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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