Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and co-star of Rocky V speaks candidly about the ‘alleged’ H.I.V. diagnoses that derailed his career and continues to complicate his current comeback bid.
By Darin Allen and Will Cummings
Tommy “The Duke” Morrison has fashioned one of the most remarkable careers in professional sports–a career that first saw him reach stardom, in 1990, co-starring alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V and ultimately highlighted by a 12 round decision over George Foreman to capture the WBO Heavyweight title in 1993. Later that same year, the kid with one of the most devastating left hooks in boxing history suffered a 1st round KO loss to Michael Bentt. Undaunted by the setback, The Duke dusted himself off and fought his way back up the ranks to win the vacant IBC world heavyweight title, by knocking out Donavan “Razor” Ruddock in 1995. However, in his very next fight—a highly publicized and eagerly anticipated IBC championship title bout–Morrison lost his crown to Lennox Lewis by way of a 6th round TKO.
|Tommy Morrison Career Boxing Record|
|48-3-1, 42 KO’s|
Click link for details Morrison record.
Tommy Morrison: The Dark Side
In retrospect, the 1995 loss to Lewis began a downward spiral that would see Morrison lose not only his world title but also his career as a boxer and eventually his freedom as well:
Prior to Morrison’s scheduled 1996 Showtime televised fight with, Arthur “Stormy” Weathers, he was informed verbally by the Nevada Boxing Commission that the pre-fight testing showed he tested positive for H.I.V. The devastating discovery effectively ended the boxing career of the 26-years-old Tommy Morrison: Thereafter, no boxing commission in the world would issue him a license due to the nature of the sport that frequently produces open wounds, free flowing blood and other body fluids—a perfect vehicle for the transmission of the disease.
If Morrison was thinking things couldn’t get any worse—they did. In 2000, an Arkansas judge sentenced him to 10 years on felony drug charges—he served 14 months in prison.
At one time, Tommy “The Duke” Morrison had the world by the tail until it all began to unravel. Yet despite the seemingly insurmountable stumbling blocks Morrison found in his way–he managed to persevere: in 2006–at the age of 37–Morrison began his highly improbable professional boxing comeback, and along the way he even dabbled in the mixed martial arts (MMA).
Interview with Tommy Morrison:
The Duke shares his explosive views on H.I.V. and the conspiracy to thwart his career, imprisonment, comeback bid , community service involvement, his new book and future fight and movie plans.
Beating the odds and trumping the naysayers, now in 2011, the second chapter of the 42-year-old’s professional boxing career is in bloom—Tommy “The Duke” Morrison is back!
Let’s see what The Duke has to say about all this:
1. Q: Your life and career certainly gives one a lot to chew on, Tommy. My first question, though, is who, what, when, where, who or how did you find the inner strength to overcome all the misery, obstacles and naysayers you have encountered since 1996?
Tommy: Because I knew that it was a conspiracy.
I knew it was a false diagnosis and nobody showed me any results and nobody could tell me who diagnosed the tests.
The whole experience in my truck…I felt the presence of God…He told me to keep doing what I was doing. Had it never happened I would have gone with the mainstream and fallen into a mainstream way of thinking and would have gotten on to the medication [HIV] and would have been dead by now.
It’s the medication that kills people. The side effects of the medication match identical to the symptoms of AIDS.
Yes, those years were very tough and I was alone most of the time–no one ever wanted to be around me. I didn’t blame people because they didn’t understand. I was researching [H.I.V.] and the more I found out the more I realized everything that was being told to me by the doctors was completely unsubstantiated and unproven. It was a theory…and the more I read and researched material written by scientists and doctors the more the “stigma” that was put on me. It became my inspiration to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that H.I.V. in fact is a myth and does not exist. I never have to this day had a single symptom of this fictitious HIV illness. I can provide you with many resources and reading material:
H.I.V. and A.I.D.S.
Below are excerpts from John Crewdson’s book “Science Fictions.” He debunks a lot about the theories we now call HIV and AIDS and how the virus was actually discovered:
“A copy of the papers that Gallo [Dr. Robert Gallo–the self-claimed discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS] fraudulently hand-changed on his discovery? I remember seeing them somewhere….(see link: Science Fiction.net.PDF ):
…Professor Emeritus Etienne de Haven, a well reputed expert in the electron microscopy, wrote to me that ‘all the “thousands of beautiful pictures of HIV” found in the world press, all derive (after considerable computer graphic embellishment!) from complex laboratory tissue cultures, NEVER directly from one single AIDS patient!‘
…This link http://www.sparks-of-light.org/retroviralpix.htm shows a lot of pictures of what HIV looks like…they are all different…! The HIV “thing” that is on the link above that Gallo says is HIV ….do you know where this “culture” came from? Like “who” he got this picture taken of…?
…He used cancerous immune cells (CD4 T-Cells), added a bunch of stimulating compounds (toxic chemicals, fetal calf serum etc.) and some serum or other fluids from someone with “AIDS” (but how did he know it was “AIDS” when he hadn’t yet isolated a virus given that every “AIDS” illness occurs in people without HIV?). He then let this stew in his lab for a couple of weeks and then detected, very indirectly, reverse transcription (conversion of RNA into DNA).”
2. Q: A lot of controversy surrounds your initial ’96 diagnoses for H.I.V. It ended your boxing career and has hindered your comeback attempt because of various state licensing requirements. Take us back to that time of the initial finding and explain the steps you took to verify the legitimacy of that testing.
Tommy: I am finding out today (2010-2011) that the Nevada Boxing Commission cannot produce any test results–positive or negative–from 1996. They have confirmed in writing this fact. I have been trying to get the results myself and have been unable. I have contacted the LAB [that did the original testing] and they do not have them. I have been told–in writing–by the Nevada Boxing Commission’s attorney–just last week–that the fight was actually cancelled because of an incomplete fight application!
Also, the comment made by Margaret Goodman in 2007 stating she asked Dr. Hiatt of Quest Labs to retrieve my 1996 test results–which she states are “ironclad and unequivocal” is an impossible statement as if there were any results the lab would have destroyed them in 2007.
3. Q: When was the last time you were tested?
4. Q: Do you have H.I.V.?
Tommy: Firstly, HIV does not exist. Secondly, if you look at the manufacturers’ disclaimers on the HIV tests…they ALL say that they cannot determine the absence or presence of the VIRUS. SO to answer your question….I am NOT infected with the HIV Virus.
5. Q: If you have proof that you are not infected with the virus, why do you think that most U.S. professional state boxing commissions—especially Nevada—are still reluctant to license you?
Tommy: This is a difficult question to answer. If you look at the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) website under medical requirements per commission, each commission has their own set of rules and medical requirements.
They are reluctant [to license me] because—supposedly–people don’t test positive and then test negative. BUT scientists and doctors have now proven that false positives can occur–even over a poppy seed bagel….and a good example would be Ozzy Osbourne’s case… BUT there is more to this story.
My fight was cancelled very strategically….and quickly…and the fact that I am still alive today and applying for licensing inspires the ABC, in particular Tim Lueckenhoff and Greg Sirb, to roadblock any fights in the U.S. and internationally….Take West Virginia…the requirements don’t call for a blood test–but I still had one done for them…and they licensed me.
|Important Medical Documentation and Notes Supporting Tommy Morrison’s Claim of Misdiagnoses and/or False Positve HIV results.|
In 2007, West Virginia became the first U.S. state boxing commission to license Morrison, since he was first diagnosed as being infected with H.I.V. back in 1996. Soon thereafter, The New York Times weighed in on the controversial West Virginia boxing commission decision to grant Morrison a license by enlisting a couple of doctors specialized in H.I.V. research, diagnoses and treatment to analyze the West Virginia test results and two other recent test taken by Morrison, in comparison to the 1996 positive result which ended his career:
Two of the test conducted—including West Virginia’s–proved negative for H.I.V. A third test result provided by Morrison’s former legal advisor Randy Lang and conducted at Specialty Laboratories of Valencia, CA tested positive for H.I.V. antibodies but negative for H.I.V. RNA—the full blown H.IV. disease A.I.D.S.
The mixed result in the Jan 5  test provided by Randy Lang makes it “likely that the antibody result is a false positive,” according to Dr. Daniel R Kuritzkes, a Harvard professor who directs aids research at Brigham University and Womens Hospital in Boston and is chairman of the board of the HIV Medicine Association who reviewed the test for the Times [The New York Times]. Without additional blood work, he added in an email message: “it’s hard to know for sure what’s going on, but I suspect he was never H.I.V. infected”
After analyzing the results of several recent HIV test taken by Morrison, Dr. Michael P. Busch, director of the Blood Systems Research Institute and a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said H.I.V. antibody screening was misinterpreted a small percentage of the time… “If those results are really all from this person [Tommy Morrison], I would tell you there is no way this person is infected, so something is wrong with those earlier results [the 1996 test],” Busch said.
Busch said there was a biological basis for some false positives on H.I.V. antibody tests, which makes some people repeatedly test false positive, although the reasons are not well understood.
Experts agreed that if Morrison was not infected with H.I.V. today, then he never had been. “There has never been a documented case of an H.I.V.-infected person who clears the virus and is cured,” Dr. Timothy Mastro, deputy director of the C.D.C.’s Division of H.I.V./AIDS Prevention, said in a telephone interview. Mastro added that the quality of H.I.V. diagnosis is “extraordinarily high.”
See in depth article here–Morrison Says Error in H.I.V. Test Hurt Career, The New York Times, by JOHN ELIGON and DUFF WILSON, published: July 22, 2007.
|As of January 2011, Tommy Morrison is licensed to fight in the states of West Virginia and Washington, and in the countries of Canada and New Zealand.|
YouTube Video 2007: The Duke Talks About His Career and HIV diagnoses at the Start of His Comeback
6. Q: How did the loss of your career influence you to get mixed up in drinking and felony drug charges that sent you to prison?
Tommy: That’s a common sense question there. How would anyone respond to getting their life ripped from them…their career…their family…their money…their livelihood…their perks…and their privacy?
I reacted in a self destructive tone. I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with me—so I decided to have some fun.
7. Q: On January 2, 2011, you will turn 42, but physically you look to be in the best shape of your life. So which sport boxing or MMA do you really want to make the focus of your comeback?
Tommy: I am in the best shape of my life. Of course—boxing. It’s boxing all the way! I just did one MMA fight just for a promoter friend. MMA is not my focus at all.
On June 9, 2007, Morrison beat 340-pound John Stover by a first round TKO in a MMA cage fight.
8. Q: What boxing trainer(s) and promoter(s) are you working with?
Tommy: Right now we have JM from SP Promotions in Canada and my trainer is Jessie Reed.
9. Q: On your Tommy Morrison Wikipedia page there is a passage that says, “In June, 2007, Morrison won a fight by knockout in Arizona. Morrison -being half Native American Indian-was invited to fight on a Yavapai-Apache Nation reservation.” I know you are the grandnephew of actor John Wayne, but are you really half Native American Indian?
Tommy: YES. Ponca/Otto, my mother, is a full blood.
10. Q: You have an autobiographical book out called Tommy: My Boxing Career, tell us a little bit about it and how it came about?
Tommy: Tommy: My Boxing Career is my first paperback book, written from my prospective, dealing with each fight in my career. The next book coming out is Tommy: My Darkest Years 1996-2006. After that book will be Tommy: My Movie Career and then I will do my complete autobiography called “UNFINISHED BUSINESS…”
11. Q: You also have a Children Foundation; what kind of work do you do with them?
Tommy: I opened a gym. The TCB GYM is located in a below poverty level, high 911 call area of Wichita. My main objective is to provide a safe, drug free, unconstructive environment to learn a skill that might put food on the table rather than out on the streets.
12. Q: How often do you go on tour to give motivational speeches?
Tommy: I have done a few but plan to do more when I actually finally retire from boxing and have the time.
13. Q: I saw the movie The Fighter. Someone should make a movie about your life! Are there any plans in the works for a movie about you?
Tommy: I get calls from producers every other month…I am just waiting for the right one…my life isn’t over yet!
14. Q: Do you still have a relationship with Sylvester Stallone?
Tommy: Once you have a relationship–you always do.
15. Q: You have had three fights since your return to the ring in 2007, and you won all three by knockouts. When is your next fight and who is it against?
Tommy: Erik Barrak February 25th, 2011.
[Barrak is a Canadian and the fight will be held at Charbonneau Centre, in Montreal, Canada].
16. Q: How can your fans buy your new book Tommy: My Boxing Career and/or keep up on the latest about Tommy The Duke Morrison?
Tommy: My website is www.TommyTheDukeMorrison.com.
Darin Allen’s Closing Thoughts
Is Tommy Morrison infected with H.I. V.? Based on the evidence presented here, I simply don’t have a definitive answer. But I do know this:
- 15 years after that initial ‘alleged’ diagnosis–Morrison is healthy and displays no symptoms of the disease.
- 2 out of 3 H.I.V. test results taken several years ago and analyzed by experts in the field came back negative for H.I.V. antibodies.
- A recent test taken in 2010 came back negative for H.I.V. antibodies.
- Tommy Morrison is now licensed to fight in 2 different states and 2 different countries.
- Since his comeback, Morison has had three boxing matches that were fought in WEST VIRGINIA, MEXICO, and ARIZONA, plus a MMA fight in WYOMING. And throughout his comeback he’s had numerous sparring partners. Yet–to this very day–there have been no reports of any participant being infected with H.I.V., after engaging in physical contact with Tommy Morrison.
The above facts are very troubling in light of the Nevada Boxing Commission being unable to produce the original 1996 lab results–it all gives plenty of plausibility to Tommy’s claims of conspiracy and/or false positive test results.
Tommy Morrison’s Success Could Bring Needed Spark to Boxing
Boxing is in serious need of a spark that will recapture public interest in the failing sport. Historically, the heavyweight division–for the most part–has been the barometer by which interest in the sport has been measured. Yet for the past two decades the lack of storyline, quality athletes and characters in the heavyweight division has relegated it to the back pages in sports and in our collective minds.
What a story it would be if Morrison could somehow manage to fight his way back to a championship fight at the age of 42 plus. And how Ironic it is that Morrison claimed his first world title in 1993 by beating 44-year-old George Foreman who–after being out of the ring for 10 years– started a comeback at the age of 38 and then went on to become the oldest heavyweight to capture a world title at the age of 45.
Can Tommy Morrison capture our imagination again like George Foreman did in the nineties? Of course, the more pressing question is will influential state boxing commissions like Nevada allow it to happen?
I for one thank Tommy for this interview and I sincerely hope that his claims of not being infected with H.I.V are true. I would truly love to see him rise again and help put some life back into the heavyweight division.
Best of luck in the future, Tommy!