Former heavyweight boxing champion and Rocky V star Tommy Morrison died last night, most likely of complications from AIDS, though not if you ask his wife, Trish, who says it was a variant of Guillain-Barre Syndrome called Miller-Fisher Syndrome. In 1996, when he was 27, Morrison twice tested positive for HIV. Later he became convinced that HIV was a myth, and after a dubious negative test for HIV in 2007, fought two more times (we last wrote about that in 2007), and failed to show for additional drug tests where the results would’ve been less dubious. The writer of that KansasCity.com piece reported that Morrison had skin lesions and claimed to be having unprotected sex with his wife. According to an incredibly fascinating though depressing ESPN piece from last week, Morrison had been bedridden for a year and had been kept alive with a ventilator and feeding tube.
In 1990, Morrison starred in Rocky V, after being discovered by Stallone as a 19-0 heavyweight from Oklahoma with 17 knockouts. He went on to win the WBO title from George Foreman in 1993, losing it to Lennox Lewis two years later. Then he tested positive for HIV before a fight with Arthur “Stormy” Weathers in 1997, just after signing a contract that would’ve paid him $38 million for three fights. After that things get pretty weird. He met his wife, Trish, in 2008 or 2009 at a screening for an HIV denialist documentary called House of Numbers in Wichita. Both of them were convinced that HIV is a myth and doesn’t cause AIDS, a conviction not shared by Morrison’s mother, brother, or manager.
Morrison got pectoral implants some time in the 2000s (pretty obvious in the above picture) which became infected in 2011 and had to be removed, though Trish has another doctor conspiracy story to explain that too, which dovetails with her current beliefs about his HIV:
She says Morrison’s health issues began more than a year and a half ago, when a doctor left a 12-foot piece of surgical gauze in his chest for eight days. She declines to name the hospital or doctor, only that it happened in Tennessee. Things got worse, she says, when he contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an ailment in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system. She says Morrison has the rare Miller Fisher variant, which manifests as a descending paralysis.
I’d urge you to read that whole story, and the KansasCity.com story from 2011, in which Morrison tells a story about teleporting himself to avoid a bar fight. If they ever get to the bottom of this story, it could make for a great book or film, though considering the next of kin is an HIV denier, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for that.
Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage, who also appeared Rocky V, died last July at 36. At this point, I think it’s safe to call it the worst sequel ever.