Legendary boxing referee Mills Lane passed away this week at the age of 85. The Celebrity Deathmatch star had been moved to hospice just a week ago according to his son Tommy Lane. The outspoken official had been watching his favorite films with his family in the time he had left. The Reno Gazette received word from Tommy Lane that his brother Terry and mother Kay were also in the facility with the judge. Back in 2002, Lane had suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side of his body and unable to verbally communicate. So, it meant a lot for his family to be around to enjoy the time they had with him in hospice care. Here's what Tommy had to say to the Reno, Nevada newspaper.
"You never knew how long he had. We kind of felt like we were preparing for this all along., but there's no such thing as preparing for this," Tommy Lane explained. "He took a significant decline in his overall situation. It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family."
Viewers of a certain age will remember Mills Lane for his career as a boxing referee. There have been numerous bouts he's presided over. One of the most infamous would have to be Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield's legendary fight in 1997. In that contest, Tyson bit his opponent's ear and the bleeding spectacle launched a thousand newsccycles. In honesty, that one moment is probably what got Mills Lane into Celebrity Deathmatch. The Los Angeles Times profiled him back in the day and these anecdotes really help tell the story.
"Everything is discipline," Lane said back in 1991 (credit to Boxing Scene). "When I'm working a fight, I give the same energy and attention to a four-rounder as I do a million-dollar fight. The way I see it, in either case, on that night, it's the most important fight in those fighters' careers.
"There was no fight we wouldn't put him in," Marc Ratner, former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission explained to the outlet. "He was as good as any referee in the world. I don't care if it was a heavyweight fight or smaller guys, when he said, 'Break' and got in between guys, the fighters respected him. Not all referees have that. He was no-nonsense. He took control. There was an aura about him."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lane family at this time.