Mills Lane, a former district attorney and judge who became one of boxing’s most prominent referees, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Reno, Nevada. During his career, he oversaw more than one hundred championship bouts and uttered his exuberant catchphrase, “Let’s get it on!” prior to the beginning of the first round of each fight. He was 85.
His son Terry indicated that complications from a stroke he had in 2002, which left him unable to speak, were the cause of his father’s death.
Mr. Lane, a former amateur and professional boxer, was known for his take-charge style in bouts against many of boxing’s elite champions, such as Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Roberto Durán, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and Thomas Hearns. During his career, Mr. Lane competed in both amateur and professional bouts.
In spite of his tiny frame — he stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed around 150 pounds — he projected a strong feeling of authority in the ring. This was similar to how he conducted himself in his legal profession in Washoe County, where Reno serves as the county seat. Because of the lengthy sentences he was able to achieve against criminals, he earned the nickname “Maximum Mills” while working as a prosecutor.
During a phone conversation, Marc Ratner, who formerly served as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, referred to the deceased official as “one of the most regarded referees in the world.” “And as he stepped into the ring, competitors immediately saw that there was something exceptional about him
Boxing is a very unpredictable sport, and Mr. Lane has seen his fair share of strange occurrences throughout his time in the sport.
The rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight championship in 1997 became a bloody spectacle when Tyson, enraged at being headbutted by Holyfield in the second round, bit off a piece of Holyfield’s right ear and spit it to the mat during the third round. This was the moment that Holyfield won the heavyweight championship.
It was he who bit him! Mr. Lane yelled at them. “He’s out of the running!” But after conferring with Mr. Ratner, who asked him if he was really confident that he intended to remove him, he decided that instead of ejecting him, he would subtract two points from Tyson’s score for the monstrous offence rather than ejecting him. And after the ringside doctor confirmed that Holyfield was able to continue, the battle continued — until later in the round when Tyson chomped on Holyfield’s left ear, which caused Mr. Lane to disqualify him for good. Holyfield won the fight by unanimous decision.
After the battle, he said, “One bite is enough to ruin everything.” “Two bites is not merited,” the speaker said.
During the same year, he also had Henry Akinwande disqualified from a bout against Lewis for excessive gripping and holding. Lewis was the opponent.
And in 1998, as Mr. Lane was trying to break up the headlock that Robert Allen had on the middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, he shoved Bernard Hopkins over the ropes by mistake. This caused Bernard Hopkins to lose his title. Because Hopkins sustained an injury during the bout, the referee ruled that there would be no winner.
Mills Bee Lane III came into the world on November 12th, 1937 in the city of Savannah, Georgia. After the end of World War II, Remer’s father took his family and settled them on a farm in South Carolina, where he began raising cattle. Louise (Harris) Lane, his mother, worked from home as a housewife.
After graduating from boarding school in 1956, he joined the Marines, where he received training in boxing and continued to listen to boxing broadcasts on the radio. He won the Marines’ All-Far East welterweight title when he was stationed in Okinawa, which is in the Far East. He was so dedicated to boxing that he enrolled in the University of Nevada, Reno, where he went on to win the welterweight championship of the N.C.A.A. in 1960.
In spite of the fact that he was not selected for the Olympic squad in 1960, he began his professional career almost immediately. He was aware that he did not possess the necessary level of skill to become a champion and decided to retire in 1967 after suffering a defeat in his first bout but going on to win the subsequent 10 bouts, including one that exacted revenge on his earlier defeat.
By that point, he had finished his studies at the University of Nevada in 1963 with a degree in commerce and had started officiating games. In 1970, he graduated from the University of Utah School of Law with a degree in law.
Mr. Lane is survived by his other son, Tommy; his wife, Kaye (Pearce) Lane; his sister, Louise Talbot; and his brothers Remer and Tom. In addition, Mr. Lane is predeceased by his son Terry. I’ve been through two failed marriages in the past.
An hour before the battle between Tyson and Holyfield, a memorabilia collector from Canada made Mr. Lane an offer of $200 for the blue shirt that he planned to wear in the ring during the bout.