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TULSA, Oklahoma (AFP) – Former world heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison, who was diagnosed with the HIV virus that causes AIDS in 1996, has died, the Tulsa World reported on Monday. He was 44.

Tony Holden, Morrison’s former promoter, told the newspaper that the fighter, who appeared in the fifth Rocky film as the main rival for Sylvester Stallone’s fictional fighter, died on Sunday night in Omaha, Nebraska.

A cause of death has not been revealed by the family or authorities.

Morrison, an Oklahoma native, won a 12-round decision over a 44-year-old George Foreman to claim the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title in 1993 but lost the crown four months later.

In 1996, just before Morrison was to have fought in Las Vegas, he was suspended after testing positive for HIV.

Morrison finished his career 48-3 with one drawn and 42 knockouts.

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My Brother, Still

When my brother was a boy, he loved to leave pennies on the railroad tracks up the street from our house and wait for the freight train to flatten them as it zoomed by.

This scared my mother to death. I don't know that she ever found a flattened penny in the pocket of his jeans or heard it rattling around in the clothes dryer. More likely, she got regular dispatches from the neighborhood gossips reporting for duty.

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