Legendary boxing referee Mills Lane, who disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, has died at the age of 85.
Lane’s son Tommy Lane told the Reno Gazette-Journal that his dad, who suffered a stroke 20 years ago, died peacefully at a hospice in Nevada.
“He took a significant decline in his overall situation,” Lane told the newspaper. “It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family.”
Known for yelling ‘Let’s get it on’ before officiating fights, he was a much respected official who was inducted into the International boxing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born in 1937, Lane enlisted in the marines in 1956 and attempted a pro career as a boxer then became a judge when that didn’t work out before returning to the ring as the third man.
He officiated several controversial heavyweight fights, including the second meeting between Holyfield and Riddick Bowe in 1993, which was interrupted by the ‘fan man’ then put a sobbing Oliver McCall out of his misery in his 1997 rematch with Lennox Lewis.
Although known for putting the Tyson corner in their place during his controversial rematch with Holyfield in 1997, he wasn’t even supposed to be the referee on the night.
Mitch Halpern was the man chosen, but complaints from Tyson’s camp saw Lane step in.
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His last fight as a referee was in 1998 when the legendary Tommy Hearns beat Jay Snyder.
“He was a fair, honest guy,” Hearns later said. “He allowed you to do what you were supposed to do in the ring.
“I had great respect for Mills Lane. I always liked it when he said, ‘Let’s Get It On!’”
He found fame on Celebrity Deathmatch in the years after his retirement, but his stroke in 2002 made it hard for him to speak.
Tributes have since poured in, with Lewis among them, writing: “Just heard the news of the passing of legendary boxing figure and referee, Mills Lane. I’m deeply saddened by this loss.
“I’d always found him to be a fair and equitable ref, both in watching him referee other fights, and when he was the third man in the ring during some of my own bouts.
“My deepest sympathies go out to his family. May he rest eternally in love & peace. Bless!”
Promoter Frank Warren, meanwhile, tweeted: “All at Queensberry send our condolences to the family and friends of legendary referee Mills Lane.”
- Tributes from Lennox Lewis and others pour in as legendary boxing referee Mills Lane, who disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield ear, dies aged 85
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