Handsome, eloquent, and powerful, Morrison parlayed a thrilling ringstyle and a homespun personality into genuine celebrity status throughout the midwest and southeast, where boxing rarely prospered. But his brush with Hollywood fame triggered an insatiable appetite for parties, liquor, and sex. When he was shockingly diagnosed with HIV in 1996, Morrison saw his life spiral out of control. His subsequent descent into drugs, prison, and conspiracy theories made Morrison headline material long after his glory days inside the ring had ended, and it transformed his story of a small-town success into one of the American Dream gone haywire.
Throughout his career, Morrison had shown a rebellious streak and a knack for excess that sabotaged his talent; those same characteristics drove him to weave an alternative universe for himself, one where HIV did not cause AIDs, bigamy was legal, and he could teleport from danger at any moment.
In The Duke: The Life and Lies of Tommy Morrison, Carlos Acevedo traces the tumultuous tale of Morrison from his days as a teenaged Toughman contestant, to his rise in the heavyweight division after defeating George Foreman, to his struggles with HIV and depression, to his farcical comeback in 2007, to his tragic death at forty-four, when his delusions finally caught up to him.