Tommy Morrison (born January 2, 1969 – died September 1, 2013) appeared as Tommy Gunn, an amateur fighter and aspiring heavyweight boxer who trains under Rocky Balboa, then spurns him when he becomes a title contender in 1990's Rocky V, the fifth film installment in the Rocky film franchise. Active in the ring as a boxer as of 2011 after a ten-year hiatus due to a health scare due to subject of HIV, Morrison also on occassion works as boxing commentator.


Morrison's professional boxing career ended for many years when he tested positive for HIV in 1996. Beginning in 2006, Morrison attempted a comeback, stating he did not have HIV.

Amateur boxing

Tommy was born in Gravette, Arkansas. At the urging of his father, Morrison, who was raised in Delaware County, Oklahoma and is of Scottish-American descent, and whose older brother and two uncles were boxers, began boxing locally at the age of ten. Beginning at the age of 13, Morrison entered fifteen "toughman" contests using a fake ID (the minimum age for contestants was 21). He told The New York Times that he lost only one of these contests.[1]

In 1988, Morrison won the Regional Heavyweight Title – Kansas City Golden Gloves from Donald Ellis and advanced to the National Golden Gloves in Omaha, Nebraska, where he lost a split decision to Derek Isaman. Two weeks later, Morrison took part in the Western Olympic trials in Houston, Texas winning the Heavyweight Title and garnishing the "Most Outstanding Fighter" of the tournament. Two weeks after that at the Olympic Trials, held in Concord, California, Morrison lost a split decision to Ray Mercer, who would go on to win the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. Morrison's combined professional and amateur record is 343–24–1, with 315 wins by knockout.

Professional boxing

Morrison started his professional boxing career on November 10, 1988, with a first-round knockout of William Muhammad in New York City. Three weeks later, he scored another first-round knockout. In 1989, Morrison had 19 wins and no losses, 15 by knockout.

In 1991, Morrison, already the recipient of much TV exposure, won fights against opponents James Quick Tillis and former world champion Pinklon Thomas. He was given an opportunity to face fellow undefeated fighter Ray Mercer, the WBO title holder in a Pay Per View card held on October 18, 1991. Morrison suffered the first loss of his career, losing by 5th round knockout.

Tommy had six wins in 1992, including fights with Art Tucker and Joe Hipp, who would later become the first Native American to challenge for the world heavyweight title. In the Hipp fight, held June 19, 1992, Morrison was suffering from what was later discovered to be a broken hand and broken jaw, but rallied to score a knockout in the ninth round. After two wins in 1993, including one over two-time world title challenger Carl "The Truth" Williams, Morrison found himself fighting for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Heavyweight title again, against heavyweight boxing legend George Foreman, who was himself making a comeback. As both men were famed for their punching power, an exciting battle was expected, but Morrison chose to avoid brawling with Foreman and spent the fight boxing from long range. Morrison was able to hit and move effectively in this manner, and after a closely contested bout he won a unanimous 12-round decision and the WBO title.

Morrison's first title defense was scheduled against [[Michael Williams|Mike "Mercury" Williams, but when Williams withdrew on the night of the fight, Tim Tomashek stood in as a replacement. Although Tomashek had been prepared to fight as a backup plan, some news reports created the impression that he had just been pulled out of the crowd.[2] The WBO later rescinded their sanctioning of this fight due to Tomashek's lack of experience. Almost immediately, talks of a fight with British World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Lennox Lewis began, but were halted when virtually unknown Michael Bentt upset Morrison in his next bout. Bentt knocked Morrison down three times, and the fight was stopped in the first round in front of a live HBO Boxing audience. Morrison recovered by winning three bouts in a row in 1994, but his last fight of the year, against Ross Puritty, ended with a draw.

Morrison won three fights in 1995 before meeting former #1 contender Donovan "Razor" Ruddock. Ruddock dropped Morrison to his knees in the first round, but Morrison recovered to force a standing count in round two and compete on even terms for five rounds. In the sixth round, Ruddock hurt Morrison with a quick combination, but just as it seemed Morrison was in trouble, he countered with a tremendous hook that put Ruddock on the canvas. Ruddock regained his feet, but Morrison drove him to the ropes and showered him with an extended flurry of blows. Just as the bell was about to sound, the referee stepped in and declared Morrison the winner by TKO.

The much-anticipated fight with Lewis, who had also lost his world championship, finally took place following the Ruddock match. Morrison was knocked out in the sixth round.


In August 2013, ESPN reported that Morrison was critically ill and had been bedridden for over a year.[3]

On September 1, 2013, Morrison died at a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska at the age of 44. His family did not disclose the cause of death.[4]


  1. Berger, Phil (3 May 1989). "Cayton's Corner Attracts Rising Heavyweight Puncher". New York Times.
  2. Doghouse Boxing. Doghouse Boxing (2004-02-04). Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
  3. Tommy Morrison's latest big fight

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