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Feature Story

Morrison ready to Duke it out

By Dave Spencer / Fightnews Canada

At 42 years old, former world heavyweight champion Tommy “The Duke” Morrison wants to show that he still has some fight left inside him. Whether the former Rocky V star has that fight is inside a Montreal boxing ring on February 25th as scheduled remains to be seen, but in a story that has more twists and turns than any Hollywood movie. Morrison is saying he is healthy, willing and able.
“I’ve as healthy as I’ve ever been and I’m going to shock the world,” said Morrison via telephone in an exclusive Fightnews interview. “I’m going to become heavyweight champion of the world, that’s if I can get one of them to fight me.”

Whether Morrison gets that chance in a fight versus local Montreal product Eric Barrack (3-0) remains to be seen. Despite claims that he is licensed in the Province of Quebec and in New Zealand, commissions of both jurisdictions disagree. “We didn’t approve anything,” Michel Hamelin of the Quebec Commission told Fightnews. “He is not licensed yet.” Hamelin told Fightnews that while nothing officially has been presented to him, he along the commission will have a lot of questions for many of the boxers scheduled to appear on the card including nearly 50 year-old Ray Mercer and 44 year-old Joe Gatti.

Quebec already has a more stringent set of tests for licensing those boxers older than 40. And while not stating it, it is widely believed that Morrison would be required to submit all blood work in Montreal for analysis, a sticking point that has dogged him in more than one U.S. State, including Washington where he was licensed briefly and had that license revoked pending more medicals.

“It’s very simple,” explained Tim Lueckenhoff of the Association of Boxing Commissions. “He needs to have a supervised draw of his blood by a State Commission, if he passed a supervised test, he could fight tomorrow in Nevada or anywhere else. We’ve asked this numerous times.”

When reached by email, a similar answer was forth-coming from Patrick Leonard as to Morrison’s claim that he is licensed in New Zealand, “As National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association Inc, I have no record or knowledge of the named Tommy Morrison. He is not registered, nor has applied for registration with this Association.”

Morrison’s original suspension goes back 1996 in Nevada and simply reads, “License Denied,” something that despite public posturing over the years, has not been resolved. Morrison tested positive for HIV at the time in advance of a proposed fight with Mike Tyson, exiling the fighter from the sport and sending shockwaves across the nation and around the world.

Now, after 14 years, Morrison would like copies of those tests back.

“The more I address this issue, the more I find out they don’t have anything,” said the man who faced-off versus Rocky Balboa in a street fight in Rocky V. “They have no medical records anywhere to back up anything up….positive or negative. I’ve been trying to retrieve those records for the past five years and they don’t exist. What happened to them? Where’d they go?

“There were conversations that went on between the Commissioner and members of my team, he failed the first one so we’re going to retest him….there should be three separate sets of results out there and there’s not a single one. They don’t know where they’re at.

“I think they misread it and by the time the second test came back negative, it was too late, the fight was already over with, so they had to get rid of everything. Everything!

“That’s what I think happened, it’s obvious to me. If you do a chronology of events, if you piece together everything and the dates, it paints a very shoddy picture of the commission, that’s for sure.”

Asked why the Nevada State Commission would hold such a vendetta against a fighter, Morrison believes it all comes down to money and covering their tracks.

“They don’t care, it’s all about money in Vegas. Don King, I mean I was the only heavyweight in the top ten he didn’t own. With me out of the way, he could control the entire heavyweight division.

“Here’s what I believe, I think they believed that after a couple of years I’d be dead and they wouldn’t have to worry about anything. But here I am 16 years later and I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. And now that they have questions to answer, nobody wants to get involved. Nobody knows anything, how can that be? This was one of the most pivotal fights going on in the world at that time, I had just signed a 38.5 million dollar contract to fight Tyson, this was the first of three fights, and now there is no documentation to prove I was positive or negative.”

Once the Tyson fight was squelched, Morrison was faced with the very real prospect of living with AIDS. There were negative tests. There were positive tests. There was sickness.

“I had several tests that were negative, then once in a while, one would pop up that was positive. I don’t know if it was something I had eaten, things like poppy seed bagels or things of that nature can alter tests. There’s no iron clad test on the market. You read the disclaimers on all these tests, it doesn’t definitively define whether you have it or you don’t have it. And it depends on the actual doctor looking at it and what he decides.”

The Oklahoma fighter believes what sickness he did incur, was strictly a result of the medication he was taking at the time.

“You open up any of those bottles and you read the little sticker with all the side-effects of the medication. Well the side-effects match up identical to the symptoms of AIDS. It’s the medicine that’s killing people.

“I took the medicine for two years. Every time I stood up, coughed too hard or shook somebody’s hand too hard I’d shit my pants. I had diarrhea constantly, I’d walk around full of water, I’d soil my underwear three or four times a day.

“I got off that shit and never felt better. My body is healthy enough now that it is going to recover, it’s going to rebuild from the damage that was done for those two years. The medication I was taking was one of the weakest kinds, they actually gave me two different kinds and they counteracted each other. I took it for two years but it really wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do.”

Certainly getting back to boxing was the last thing on Morrison’s mind when while taking the medication. “There’s no way I would have ever made it back to the ring if I was still on it. I was shrinking up, steadily getting weak and be dehydrated all the time and eventually my body organs would have failed and fight off against each other and I would die. You do realize that they want to thin out the population in this world. The elite in this world want to kill off 80 percent off us, they’ve been putting stuff in vaccine for years. “

Conspiracy theories aside, Morrison looks forward to fighting the fight he knows best, the one inside the ring. “I want to get inside the ring, rattle some cages, get my livelihood back, and have people watch boxing again.”

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