Former heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison, who fought under the nickname “Duke,” died Monday (September 2) at age 44. His family is not disclosing the cause of death, but promoter and friend Tony Holden say he was a patient in a Nebraska hospital at the time. Morrison tested positive for HIV in 1996, the Associated Press reports.
Morrison won his one and only WBO heavyweight title in 1993, when he beat George Foreman. He lost it three months later to Michael Bentt. Morrison then tested positive for HIV shortly before a bout in 1996, which essentially ended his professional fighting career.
Years later, Morrison had two more matches, both of which he won by TKO. He claimed his HIV tests were actually false positives and was able to get licensed to fight in Arizona in 2007. It was reported August 23 that he had been bedridden and critically ill for a year.
Those who aren’t fight fans may instead remember Morrison from his role in Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky V,” where he played Tommy Gunn, a young boxer Rocky takes under his wing but ends up facing in the movie’s final showdown.