Mills Lane, the legendary boxing referee famous for using the phrase “Let’s get it on,” has died at 85 years old. Lane’s wife, Kay, and sons Tommy and Terry were at his side. Lane’s son, Tommy, told the Reno Gazette Journal that his father, who suffered a stroke 20 years ago, had been in hospice for the last week.
Lane was a prosecutor and later a judge in Nevada, and was a boxing ref from the 1970s through the ’90s. He was the official in the infamous second fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in 1997, in which Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off, and quickly became a household name.
Lane presided over more than 100 world championship fights, from the 1970s to the late 1990s, making him a participant in some of the greatest moments in boxing history, but it was his moral rectitude and intolerance for shenanigans that made him a respected figure inside and outside the ring.
Lane was a celebrity in the sport during a period that boasted the likes of Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler.
Lane got an early start in boxing. In 1956, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and started boxing. When he was stationed in Okinawa, he became the All Far East welterweight champion. He started referring fights while he was a student at University of Nevada, Reno.
Boxing referee Mills Lane. Photo courtsey of Bob Martin/Allsport