Make no mistake, former Kansas City Star reporter Elizabeth Merrill scored a huge coup in tracking down Tommy Morrison‘s mom Diana and getting her on the record for ESPN that Tommy is dying of the AIDS virus. That and tracking down and talking to a number of other Tommy relatives and hangers on.
However that still left plenty of holes in the tragic take of the kid from Jay, Oklahoma who Kansas City came to embrace – the dude at the time who played Tommy Gunn in Rocky.
Enter Susan Martin of Phoenix – the mother of one of Tommy’s close friends – who befriended him in 2006 and let him live with her for six months before Morrison started to go off the deep end again while having an affair with a married woman from California.
“I was helping to manage Tommy and was the head of the Tommy Morrison Foundation,” Martin says. “You know, giving away money to AIDS. I basically gave him lodging and food and helped to find him a trainer and pretty much put his life back on track here. And I had never even been to a boxing match.”
“After the Tommy incident and dealing with all that disfunctionality, I’m out,” Martin says. “My son tried to get a hold of Tommy recently but this Trisha is kind of the guardian at the gate.”
Trisha btw is allegedly Morrison’s wife and current caregiver.
Much of ESPN’s story centered around Tommy’s mom.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, Tommy’s always been tight with his mom,” Martin says. “But he told me that she killed his dad’s girlfriend – she took a knife out in a bar and stabbed her to death.”
Which kinda illustrates how tough Tommy’s family life was growing up, Martin says.
“You know, his mother had Tommy fight at 10 years-old,” Martin says. “I don’t think he ever really had a childhood.”
Nor does it surprise Martin that Trisha doesn’t seem to be getting along too well with Tommy’s mom.
“None of Tommy’s girl (friends) do.”
Martin has a theory re Tommy’s two decade struggle to return to the ring:
“He missed the fame,” she says. “He missed the adulation. He missed the power and the popularity, people applauding. And above everything else, he missed the money and I think he was willing to do anything in order to get that money again. But I don’t think he really missed getting back in the boxing ring.”
Meanwhile back in the wilds of Tennessee, the former Dawn Morrison has remarried and continues to raise the son she and Tommy had more than a decade ago.
“Dawn and I correspond weekly,” Martin says. “We send jokes to each other – nothing about Tommy. We haven’t even discussed Tommy in years. She still has Tommy’s son. I think Tommy gave up the rights to him when she took him back to court the last time.”
As with Trisha, Tommy used to brag about having unprotected sex with Dawn after they remarried in 2001.
But it wasn’t quite that simple, Martin says.
“There was a special process that Tommy’s sperm had to go through to be cleaned up in order for Tommy to have children,” Martin says. “It wasn’t just unprotected sex. It went through some very special process to clean out his sperm from the HIV.”
Gatekeeper Trisha is keeping people from talking to Tommy – to the extent that he can even communicate – but if Martin could get a message to Morrison, what would that message be?
“My message would be one word,” Martin says. “Karma.”