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"The whole thing is like a movie script" - The tragedy of Tommy Morrison

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

04:40 8 Jan 2019


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Last Wednesday, Tommy Morrison would have turned 50.

At one time, the former boxer held the WBO Heavyweight title and also starred in a Rocky film.

But just over five years ago, he passed away as a result of AIDS. In August 2013, just one month before his death, his mother told ESPN's Elizabeth Merrill that Morrison was in his "final days" and had "full-blown AIDS".

Tonight on Off The Ball, Merrill joined Joe Molloy to look back at Tommy Morrison's life and career, including 1996.

That was the year he announced that he had tested positive for HIV. Ten years later however, he attempted a comeback.

Comeback

"He started reading these conspiracy theories on the Internet. He started reading more and more about these AIDS-denialist stories and he really wanted to fight again," said Merrill.

"I've been told that the news that he was HIV positive, despite that lifestyle that he had - and you know, this is a guy who came from nothing - he soaked up that lifestyle because it was such a whirlwind time for him.

"So when he heard that news, he still thought he could fight even though he was HIV positive. And so that press conference, and him coming to terms with that, over the years he was meant to fight and he always thought he could get back to that."

Tommy Morrison in Rocky V (1990):

His record prior to stepping away from the ring in 1996, read 46 wins and just three losses. And he did fight twice upon his return, winning both times in 2007 and 2008.

"Perhaps part of him being able to fight again, was he had to believe that he didn't have HIV," Merrill continued.

Lawyers

"And he had to convince other people that he didn't have HIV. Now, he did fight twice during his quote/unquote comeback. They were in places that weren't sanctioned.

"The whole thing is like a movie script. There was talk of blood samples being switched, lawyers who helped set up interviews that I had him with him in Arizona in '07.

"Later that year, maybe the next year, they came out that and said that he was HIV positive and that they weren't on speaking terms anymore and they were in a spat about that. So he stopped taking his medicine. You hear a lot of people these days, if you're HIV positive, you can still live a long life with today's medical advances.

"But you can't if you don't take the drugs that you need to."

You can listen back to the full interview on the video player above. It's also be available as a podcast. For the ESPN 30 For 30 Joe references, click here.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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