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Mills Lane

Famed referee Mills Lane passes away at age 85

Beloved boxing icon Mills Lane has died at age 85. The former professional boxer turned referee, district attorney and judge, died Tuesday morning in Reno, Nevada. His son, Tommy Lane, told the Reno Gazette Journal that Mills Lane died after being in hospice for the past week.

Mills suffered a stroke appoximately 20 years ago which was the beginning of his health’s decline.

“He took a significant decline in his overall situation,” Tommy Lane said. “It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family.”

His family wife Kay and sons Terry and Tommy were with him when he died.

“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 said.

Lane, arguably the most well-known boxing referee in the history of the sport was born in Georgia on November 2, 1937. He is best remembered for refereeing the second fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson in 1997, when Tyson bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear.

Mills Lane began his career in boxing as a fighter, starting while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, and later going 10-1 as a professional. Lane would almost even compete for the United States in the 1960 Olympics, though he was ultimately eliminated in the semi-finals of the Olympic Trials. He would last fight in 1967 before going on to officiate his first boxing match in 1971.

Lane began working in the Washoe County District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor that same year and spent nearly 17 years there. He was elected district attorney of Washoe County in 1982. He became a judge of Washoe County’s Second Judicial District Court in 1990. In 1998, he stepped down from the bench to begin a courtroom series, “Judge Mills Lane,” which ran for three years.

He was the referee in more than 100 world championship fights and his iconic catchphrase “Let’s Get It On,” was captured in the hit MTV claymation series “Celebrity Deathmatch” in the 1990’s.

The City of Reno honored him on Dec. 27, 2004, proclaiming it “Mills Lane Day.” In May 2006, a new justice administration building in downtown Reno was named after him. The building houses the Reno Municipal Court and the Washoe County district attorney’s office.

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