Available on Disney + via their ESPN link, Tommy is technically a feature length episode of 30 for 30 a sports documentary series. There are a few boxing films in there, all solid features, and plenty for fans of the big US sports, too. Tommy, which tells the fascinating life story of heavyweight Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, stuck out to me because I knew little about its subject past a few standout facts.

Being a boxing fan, not a boxing historian, and having grown up in the eighties, I knew Tommy Morrison mostly as the guy from Rocky V. A retired Balboa take on a young fighter (imaginatively called Tommy) played by Morrison. The film is much maligned although I remember liking it- I have not returned to it in years, though, because it is safe in that memory box rather than ruined by the likely reality of a rewatch.

In real life Tommy Morrison was a character; a boxer with a destructive hook, exciting style and fighting running through his blue-collar veins. That wasn’t the only thing running through his veins, though, and a lifestyle of playing as hard as he worked (harder, often) caught up with him when in 1996 he tested positive for HIV. The man who had fought Lennox Lewis had his boxing career ripped away from him, largely because of his own vices.

The story of Tommy Morrison’s life is engagingly told through interviews and fight footage and the film is well produced. For anyone like me with only a fleeting awareness of the man and fighter, there is plenty of juicy insight and exciting fighting to make the concise (77 minute) run time fly by. If you’re looking for a boxing history hit that’s an easy watch, check out Disney + and the 30 for 30 series, of which Tommy is my pick of the bunch.


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