September 15, 2011

Ex-champ Tommy Morrison charged with felony possession

Former heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison appeared in Sedgwick County Court Thursday to hear drug charges against him.

Appearing on a courtroom monitor in Wichita on Thursday, Tommy Morrison for the most part didn’t look like his former self.

In some ways, his identity remained intact. He wore a sweater with “TOMMY” emblazoned across the front. And on a court document, on the line asking for his occupation, he wrote “athelete.”

This is the man who became the heavyweight boxing champion in 1993 by beating George Foreman. This is the man who starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in 1990’s “Rocky V.”

On Thursday, from a room at the Sedgwick County Jail linked electronically to the courtroom, Morrison listened as a judge read drug charges against him.

Standing there, Morrison, now 42, looked nothing like the muscular, powerful boxer he once was.

His clothes used to flex out from all his muscles.

But standing at the jail lectern, his sweater hung from him. He looked gaunt compared with his former build. A jail booking log says he is 6 feet 2 inches, 210 pounds.

It has been widely publicized that Morrison tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 1996. It’s also been widely publicized that Morrison doesn’t believe HIV exists.

As he spoke briefly with District Judge Warren Wilbert on Thursday afternoon, Morrison seemed somewhat confused, asking, “We’re in Kansas, aren’t we?”

On Wednesday, Sedgwick County deputies, armed with a warrant, used the office’s aircraft to bring Morrison from Tennessee to face the charges in Kansas.

“We picked him up without incident,” said sheriff’s Capt. Greg Pollock.

The charges, filed in April, are felony possession of controlled substances and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia for use.

The felony charge accuses Morrison of having marijuana when he had a prior drug conviction. The misdemeanor charge accuses him of having two marijuana pipes.

The charges apparently stem from a March 4, 2010, incident in which Wichita police arrested Morrison outside a North Market fitness club, according to police records.

Police had gone to the club in response to a report of a suspicious person. In an interview with an Eagle reporter the next day, Morrison said he frequented the fitness club and would sit in his car, reading the Bible and meditating, before going inside to lift weights.

Morrison, an Oklahoma native, said at the time that he had moved to Wichita nine months earlier to be involved with the Tommy Morrison Children’s Foundation and that he wanted it to become a camp for terminally ill children.

At the time, he said he was preparing for an upcoming match.

In a financial affidavit he filled out Thursday for the court, Morrison said he is married and lives in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and that he has no savings or property.

Still, he indicated he was hiring an attorney rather than having one appointed to represent him.

On Thursday, Morrison remained in jail on a $50,000 bond.

He faces a Sept. 29 preliminary hearing to decide if his case will go to trial.

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