Tommy Morrison “drugs, Prison, and despair, and Redemption

27.09.06 - By Mike Casile - Philadelphia boxing Report (ESPN) Radio - In the late 1980’s, Mike Tyson was tearing through a dismal group of contenders, and an aging group of champion’s in the Heavyweight division. He appeared at a time, when the heavyweight division, looked very much like it does now. As we watched him dominate, then slowly self destruct, there was another young fighter, who had no amateur experience to speak of, and was as raw a fighter, that had ever stepped into the ring. If coming straight form the tough man circuit wasn’t hard enough for Tommy Morrison, he also had to carry a sorry banner of “the great white hope”, which was pretty much used as toilet paper, by Jerry Cooney.

He didn’t think much of the media created title, in fact, he laughs about it saying, “If someone thought I was an easy fight because of my skin color, they were usually thinking differently looking up from the canvas”. Tommy began his career at the Felt Forum in New York City. He totally destroyed his opponent in a matter of minutes. Between 1988, and his retirement in 1996, he fought 50 times, with 40 KO’s, 3 losses, and 1 draw. He fought 19 times in 1989, something I do not think has been repeated by too many heavyweights in my era, and he ended his career, the way it started, with a first round knock out of Marcus Rhodes.

Tommy had two things that can hurt any young person, money and fame. After testing positive for the H.I.V virus, before a tune up fight, that was to lead to a shot at Mike Tyson, Tommy’s world took a tumble, and almost immediately, the entire world looked away from him. He was a diseased outcast, and the media that adorned him with pugilistic accolades, suddenly forced Tommy into a new role, the invisible man... He was on the world’s stage, of one the most high profile sports, he was co-starring in movie’s with the industry’s biggest actors, his American dream, became a personal nightmare. He did 14 months for drugs and weapon charges, as well as pleading guilty for drunk driving. “I didn’t care about anybody, I was taking drugs, falling into a downward spiral, and I thought I was dead.”

He, of course, admits doing a lot of things that he probably shouldn’t have, but we are also talking about a simple country boy, with barely a High school education. If you are looking for a bunch of psychoanalytical bull from Tommy, you are not going to get it. He is a straight shooter, maybe a little too straight. When I asked about the current crop of Heavy weights, he answered, “The Klitschko brothers? I do not know who the hell they are, and I don’t care, I ill beat them all.” When I told him the current line up, he laughed and replied, “Big guys can’t fight. They are too slow and flat footed and they stand straight up” I had to remind him that only one Klitschko brother is fighting, he replied “there’s a difference?”

Tommy is in Arizona training. He has never looked better physically, and mentally, he sounds very together. He even said that Emmanuel Stewart has made an offer to be his trainer, which is probably something that would make front page news in the boxing world. If he were to pass his test in Phoenix, then the heavyweight division would have to take notice. The reality is , there was a better crop of fighters when Morrison retired, than there is now, and if he does what he says he can do, It should revive a division that has not had a spark since the mid 90’s, which coincidentally is the same time Tommy retired.

Article posted on 27.09.2006

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