Point of No Return
In announcing last February that he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS, Tommy Morrison, the perennially overhyped heavyweight contender previously known chiefly for his left hook, his party-hearty lifestyle and his role as an overhyped heavyweight contender in Rocky V, exhibited a surprising eloquence and a striking sense of courage and resolve. Here, it seemed, was a compelling—if unlikely—spokesman for the battle against AIDS. Which made the fighter's announcement last week of a proposed return to the ring all the more dismaying.
Morrison's stated reason for what he said will be a one-bout return is to raise money for Knockout AIDS, a foundation for children with HIV and AIDS that he founded in June with his longtime promoter, Tony Holden. Yet there is wide speculation that Morrison is simply reluctant to let go of boxing. Last January, Morrison signed a multifight contract with Don King; had things gone as expected, he would now be preparing to meet Mike Tyson in the richest showdown of Morrison's career. Plus, as Holden explains, still-good health has sent a mixed message to Morrison, who remains a fit 228 pounds. "He doesn't feel any effects," says Holden. "To an athlete, this is confusing."
A more troubling reason for the comeback might be that despite more than $10 million in career earnings, Morrison may not be financially prepared for the most important fight of his life. Treating HIV patients can cost thousands a month, and sources close to Morrison will say only that the boxer, who has been aggressive in learning about the disease and pursuing treatment, has "some" insurance.
There is no doubt that Morrison has already helped boxing, having increased awareness and prompted more widespread prebout testing in his bloody business. But the latest Morrison move has raised questions that no one around him seems ready to answer. "His whole life has been full of violence and money and greed," says Holden, "but his heart is 100 percent in the right place."
Wherever his heart is, his body should not be allowed through the ropes. There's no conclusive evidence that HIV can be spread through sports, but the sanguinary nature of boxing argues against HIV-positive athletes competing, at least until more research is done. For now the debate seems academic. When Morrison's license was revoked by Nevada, every other state with a boxing commission followed suit. And TV's reaction to the proposed return has so far been thumbs-down; Showtime's Jay Larkin last week termed the idea of airing any Morrison fight "horrendously irresponsible."
But Morrison says he's determined to box again. And given boxing's history, who would doubt that there are opponents willing to fight him, venues willing to host such a bout and promoters sleazy enough to arrange a showcase for The HIV Champion?
In Name Only
The Lehigh men's golf team won the Cornell-Colgate Invitational, played on Sept. 7 and 8 in Ithaca and Hamilton, N.Y., by beating 18 other teams but not Cornell. The Big Red was forced to sit out its own tournament because of an Ivy League rule prohibiting competition before the completion of two weeks of classes. Cornell coach Dick Costello, who says he was unaware of the rule when he planned the event, appealed for an exemption but was turned down. "I accept total responsibility," he says, "but I don't condone the lack of respect for humanity the Ivy League appeals committee had."
Though enraptured by the brilliance of MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners, history-minded fans in the Emerald City might recall an era in which their shortstop did not hit .365 and look like a GQ cover model. They remember the late, lamented Ray (Oil Can Harry) Oyler, for whom the term good-field, no-hit could have been invented.