Tommy Morrison, Former Heavyweight Champ, Dead at 44

Tommy Morrison, a boxing heavyweight champion from 1993 to 1995, has died at 44.


Tommy Morrison, a boxing heavyweight champion from 1993 to 1995, has died at 44.

ESPN (“Tommy Morrison dies at 44“):

Former WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison died in an Omaha, Neb., hospital late Sunday night. He was 44.

Morrison’s longtime promoter, Tony Holden, said Morrison died at 11:50 p.m. with his wife, Trisha, beside him.

Morrison tested positive for HIV in 1996 before a fight with Arthur Weathers, effectively ending his boxing career. In the years that followed, he denied having HIV and also challenged the existence of the virus.

Trisha Morrison, who married Morrison in 2011, picked up that fight, and in a recent interview with insisted that Morrison had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, not HIV.


In 1993, Morrison beat George Foreman to win the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title. He lost to Lennox Lewis in 1995.

He also gained fame for his role in the 1990 movie “Rocky V,” in which he portrayed “Tommy Gunn,” a rookie boxer who is trained by Rocky Balboa, portrayed by star Sylvester Stallone. Morrison, as Gunn, goes on to win the heavyweight title in the movie and then later fights and loses to his mentor.

Morrison was born in Arkansas and grew up in Oklahoma.

At the time of Morrison’s HIV test, it was generally considered a death sentence. But treatment protocols were already emerging that have allowed HIV-positive people to leave more-or-less normal lives indefinitely.

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Sports, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rbaron321 says:

    Given the preception that HIV is a “gay” disease. I wonder if that played in to his denial of his diagnosis.

  2. Ernieyeball says:

    Either he had the diagnosis and was drinking the “cocktail” as I have heard many AIDs survivors call it or he did not have the disease…Or he has been dead for the last 15 years.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Rbaron321: A joke going around in the early 1980s went something like this:

    Q: What’s the second worst part of having AIDS?
    A: Knowing you’re going to die.
    Q: What’s the worst part?
    A: Trying to convince your dad you’re Haitian.

  4. Ernieyeball says:

    @James Joyner: And I thought I was vulgar…

  5. Rbaron321 says:

    Haha. I have to remember that one.

    The ESPN link makes clear that the diagnosis cost him his whole social circle in addition to millions of dollars. Its No wonder he latched on to the idea that it was a conspiracy against him.

  6. 11B40 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Greetings, James Joyner:

    I was living in Manhattan in the early ’80s, and the way I heard the joke was that the two most effected “communities” being male homosexuals and Haitians, the worst part was trying to convince your dad you’re Haitian.

    Yours is probably a corrected version or an update, I guess. Forward.