Tommy Morrison and his epic mullet starred in Rocky V in 1990 and won a heavyweight title from George Foreman in 1993, but the years since haven’t been nearly as kind (or mullety). He lost his title to Lennox Lewis in ’96, and soon after tested positive for HIV (according to two separate blood tests), which seems way worse. In 2007, he emerged with some dubious test results* saying he was HIV negative, and has gone on to box and win twice in some totally-above-board-and-not-at-all-shady promotions (*captain turns on sarcasm indicator light*).
He’s now 42 and training for another fight, and blames his original positive test results on jealous rivals and corrupt promoters, claims which might sound a liiiittle more plausible if he didn’t quickly follow that up by saying that HIV is a myth and that he believes he’s telekinetic (that’s telekinesis, Kyle). Oh, and did I mention that according to a newspaper profile from last month, Morrison is having unprotected sex with his girlfriend and sporting lesions on his skin? Because he is. I imagine the last line of the reporter’s article was, “Meanwhile, I’m not getting laid because I’m poor, goodbye, cruel world.” Here’s a delightful excerpt:
Morrison’s rough Oklahoma twang will spell out all kinds of ideas, things that would blow your mind if they existed outside his reality.
Telekinesis, for instance. He hasn’t quite figured it out, but he’d rather be invisible, anyway. Just think of all the stuff he could learn. One time he teleported himself out of a bar, and did you know the human body can re-grow limbs?
His face is worn and his skin sags in places, but he insists he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s going to be heavyweight champion again if boxing lets him back in, and this brings up HIV. It always comes back to HIV with Tommy, even over breakfast, so he chops up his $12 steak and eggs and tells you he is the victim of a wild conspiracy.
They stole his career, he says, at least a $38 million contract and who knows how much after that? They stole his good name, too. Made him admit to the world he has HIV. But that was before he found out that HIV doesn’t exist. It was invented to control people, he tells you, and he can go on and on about this all day.
He takes another bite and looks at his girlfriend, a woman from England named Trisha.
“We have unprotected sex,” she says.
Tommy is still chewing, but laughs.
“Every day,” he says. “We’re wild.”
Haha, cool story, bro! (*mouths “check please” at waitress*)
Tommy has spots all over his hands and arms. They’re distracting when you meet him. You can’t miss them. He blames his boxer puppy. Only the spots aren’t bite marks or scratches, and so now Tommy says they’re mosquito bites. Mosquitoes love him, he says.
Well sure, AIDS is like Tapatio to a mosquito.
Except it’s the middle of winter, and the marks look a lot like the HIV symptom of lesions or Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Tommy wants to talk to you about HIV. It’s a farce, he says. An invention by a scientist who wanted to make money, a lie kept alive by a government that wants to scare people. He doesn’t have HIV, never did, and besides, it’s not the deadly disease it’s been made out to be.
What he says sounds crazy, but there is an obvious and undeniable fact sitting in front of you: Tommy Morrison is still alive and apparently healthy, 15 years after testing positive for HIV. Magic Johnson tested positive five years before Tommy, but Johnson has wealth and the very best medical care.
Healthy, didn’t you just say he had lesions?
Tommy isn’t broke, exactly, but lives a paycheck-to-paycheck sort of life and says he’s never taken any medication for HIV. In fact, he served 14 months in prison for drugs and weapons charges in the early 2000s, talks of past methamphetamine binges, and was arrested on another drug charge as recently as last year. This is not a man who follows doctors’ orders.
Tommy Morrison figures you won’t believe him, but he’ll tell you anyway about the time he teleported himself out of trouble.
It was in a dark and shady bar in Springfield. Daytime. A group of people sat around a table in the back corner, and Tommy instantly felt like he’d walked in on something. He says there was “an overwhelming feeling of evil” in that room, and he knew he had to get out. So he lowered his head and shut his eyes and when he woke up he was standing outside in bright daylight.
Boy, how funny is it that his dog is a boxer? I mean talk about irony!
*You can read all about it in the reference articles on his Wikipedia page (especially this one), but the gist is that doctors have cast doubt on whether the blood was actually his in his negative tests, and meanwhile, he’s refused to be tested in many situations where the results would’ve been ironclad. Though experts do admit the possibility of a false positive back in ’96, assuming the results of the new test was actually his blood. Here’s a pretty thorough rundown:
Supporting Tommy’s argument:
The Times obtained copies of three documents, not previously made public, that purport to be tests of Morrison’s blood this year.
One of them, negative for H.I.V. antibodies, was a report from LabCorp in Phoenix on blood drawn Feb. 6 and was released by Peter McKinn, Morrison’s promoter. The second, which did not detect H.I.V. in DNA, was a LabCorp report on blood drawn Feb. 14 and was released by West Virginia. The state used those tests to license Morrison to box, said Michele Duncan Bishop, general counsel for the West Virginia Department of Revenue, which oversees the athletics commission.
A third test, from Specialty Laboratories of Valencia, Calif., on blood drawn Jan. 5, indicates Morrison tested positive for H.I.V. antibodies but negative for H.I.V. in RNA. That report was released by Randy D. Lang, Morrison’s former legal adviser, who said the antibody result showed Morrison was still infected.
But the experts said the RNA result in the same report raised the possibility that the antibody result was a false positive, an event that studies say occurs in fewer than 1 in 100,000 cases.
The mixed result in the Jan. 5 test 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 and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is chairman of the board of the H.I.V. Medicine Association. Kuritzkes reviewed the test for The Times. Without additional blood work, he added in an e-mail message, “it’s hard to know for sure what’s going on, but I suspect he was never H.I.V.-infected.”
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. He said the RNA and DNA tests, which measure the virus directly rather than through antibodies, would virtually prove that the person was not harboring even a latent infection.
“If those results are really all from this person, I would tell you there is no way this person is infected, so something is wrong with those earlier results,” Busch said.
Dr. Michael B. Schwartz, a Connecticut physician and president of the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians, consulted for West Virginia [where Morrison tested negative and was allowed to fight]. In interviews, he said he advised them to have the tests done through Dr. Patricio Reyes, a Phoenix physician, to assure that it was Morrison’s blood.
Reyes said that Morrison never showed up for a scheduled appointment. Instead, records show, Morrison went through Request A Test, Ltd., an Ohio company, to draw blood at LabCorp in Phoenix.
It remains unclear whether anyone monitored the Feb. 14  blood draw. The lab order form shows Morrison’s driver’s license attached to verify identity. Schwartz said a driver’s license “should suffice.”
Based on that result, Schwartz advised West Virginia on Feb. 20 that Morrison did not have H.I.V.
Oh, and I may have forgotten to include this in the “case against” section: he has lesions.