Tommy “The Duke” Morrison
Thomas David Morrison (January 2, 1969 – September 1, 2013) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1988 to 1996, and held the WBO heavyweight title in 1993. He retired from boxing in 1996 when he tested positive for HIV. Morrison is also known for his acting career, having starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in the 1990 film Rocky V as Tommy Gunn.
Morrison had previously attempted a comeback to boxing in 2007 when the Nevada commission lifted the indefinite worldwide suspension in July 2006.  In August 2013, Morrison’s mother announced that her son was in the final stages of AIDS, and he died on September 1, 2013 at the age of 44 from septicemia, septic shock, multi-system organ failure and, ultimately, cardiac arrest.
Morrison was born in Gravette, Arkansas. His mother, Diana, was Native American (half Ponca and half Otoe) while his father Tim was of mostly Scottish ancestry. Morrison was raised in Delaware County, Oklahoma, spending most of his teenage years in Jay. Morrison’s nickname, “The Duke”, is based on the claim that he was an alleged grand-nephew, or otherwise distant relative of the Hollywood star John Wayne (né Marion Morrison). and his father urged Tommy to take up the sport at the age of ten. At the age of 13, Morrison’s mother used a fake ID and entered her son into fifteen “toughman” contests (the minimum age for contestants was 21). He later told The New York Times that he lost only one of these matches.
After graduating from high school in 1988, Morrison received a football scholarship to Emporia State University, being invited to play for the university team. In the same year, age 19, Morrison won the Regional Heavyweight Title – Kansas City Golden Gloves from Donald Ellis and advanced to the National Golden Gloves in Omaha, Nebraska, where he decisioned Javier Alvarez in the preliminaries, decisioned Warren Williams in the quarterfinals, but lost a split decision to Derek Isaman in the semifinals. Two weeks later, Morrison took part in the Western Olympic trials in Houston, Texas, defeating Robert Hargrove by a 4–1 majority decision in the semifinals, and John Bray by a 5–0 unanimous decision in the finals, and qualifying for the nationals, and garnering the “Outstanding Fighter” award of the tournament.
Two weeks after that, fighting out of Republic, Missouri, at the National Olympic Trials in Concord, California, July 6, 1988, Morrison lost a 0–5 unanimous decision to Ray Mercer, who went on to win the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. (They also had a prior match-up scheduled to be held June 16, 1988, at the Felt Forum, New York City, but no further information available on that one as to why it didn’t happen.)
As an amateur, Morrison claimed 222 fights (most of which were local match-ups,) with the 1988 Olympic Trials being the top of his amateur career. His amateur record is 202 wins, 20 losses.
Morrison started his professional boxing career on November 10, 1988, with a first-round knockout of William Muhammad in New York City. Three weeks later, he scored another first-round knockout. In 1989, Morrison had 19 wins and no losses, 15 by knockout. In 1989, actor Sylvester Stallone observed one of Morrison’s bouts. Stallone arranged a script reading and cast Morrison in the movie Rocky V as Tommy “The Machine” Gunn, a young and talented protege of the retired Rocky Balboa. Morrison took a six-month break from boxing to work on the movie in 1990.