Mills Lane: Mills Lane, a Hall of Fame referee who presided over more than 100 championship fights, including the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield “Bite Fight,” passed away on Tuesday morning at his Reno, Nevada, home, his son Terry Lane told ESPN. He was 85.
In March 2002, Lane, famous for saying “Let’s get it on” before fights, suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak. During his final days, his wife Kaye and kids Terry and Tommy were by his side.
Most of that time was spent watching footage of the roughly 50 fights he officiated in the 1980s and 1990s, including Vito Antuofermo and Marvin Hagler’s middleweight championship draw in 1979.
Terry Lane, the manager of well-known Chinese boxers Zhang Zhilei and Fanlong Meng, admitted that the 20 years following the stroke “were rough.” “… The outpouring of support has relieved us.
“He was a wonderful parent and husband, but I don’t know whether others ever saw the sensitive and gentle side of him. Since his stroke, my mum has cared for him; he has never spent a night in a nursing institution.
I’m unsure if December 6 marks my father’s passing or the start of a new life for her. After joining the Marines in 1956, Lane began boxing. He was later defeated in the American Olympic trials in San Francisco in 1960. Lane was known for his no-nonsense demeanor as the third man in the ring.
The following year, he switched to professional boxing and made his welterweight debut, losing via first-round TKO. Lane retired in 1967 with a 10-1 record after winning 10 straight contests (with six knockouts).
After earning his law degree from the University of Utah in 1970, he officiated his first championship match the following year. Lane always appeared to be in significant boxing moments.
Image Source: nypost.com
Lane, possibly the most well-known referee in the illustrious history of boxing, was present for both Julio Cesar Chavez’s victory against Meldrick Taylor in the rematch and Tyson’s comeback DQ victory over Peter McNeeley.
Bernard Hopkins and Robert Allen’s 1998 fight ended in a draw when Hopkins was expelled from the ring as Lane attempted to break one of the numerous clinches. Even his final match, a first-round knockout of Jay Snyder by Tommy Hearns in 1998, was a highly unusual double knockdown.
With the help of his syndicated court program, “Judge Mills Lane,” which lasted until 2001, Lane entered the mainstream in the same year (the Savannah, Georgia native previously served as both a district attorney and district judge.)
When MTV’s popular Claymation series, “Celebrity Deathmatch,” made its debut in 1998, with Lane serving as the referee, complete with his signature catchphrase, Lane cemented his position in pop culture history.
In 1991, Lane told the Los Angeles Times that “everything is discipline.” “When I’m working a fight, I give a four-rounder the same intensity and focus as a million-dollar fight. Regardless of the outcome, the night bout is the most significant in each fighter’s career.
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