Mills Lane, who gained fame as a boxing referee who would tell fighters “Let’s get it on,” has died at 85 years old in Reno, Nevada.
Lane’s son, Tommy, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that his father, who had suffered a stroke 20 years ago, had been in hospice for the last week.
“He took a significant decline in his overall situation,” Lane said. “It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family.”
Lane became a boxer after joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1956, becoming the All-Far-East welterweight champion. He won the NCAA welterweight title in 1960 and almost made the Olympic team. He then turned professional and compiled a record of 10-1.
Lane graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1963 and also began his career as a boxing referee. He would go on to referee boxing matches in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, becoming famous for his pre-fight “Let’s get it on” catchphrase. He not only refereed over 100 championship fights but he also became a household name in 1997 when he refereed “The Bite Fight” between world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.
When not in the ring, Lane had a very successful legal career, first as district attorney of Washoe County and eventually as a judge of Washoe County’s Second Judicial District Court. He parlayed his fame and legal standing into the “Judge Mills Lane” show, which ran for three years. He was also showcased in MTV’s “Celebrity Death Match,” as the referee of their claymation fights.
The boxing world and sports world came together to mourn the passing of Lane.
We're sorry to learn of the death of Mills Lane. One of boxing's greatest ever referees. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. Rest easy, Mr Lane. pic.twitter.com/P8muhXYl5i
— Boxing News (@BoxingNewsED) December 6, 2022
RIP to my favorite claymation battle to the death referee, I hope Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond can make the funeral https://t.co/yjzMSNIcur
— 🎶 Simply Loving To Permanently Be Online 🎶 (@BobbyBigWheel) December 6, 2022
you had to be there.
rest easy, Mills Lane. 🕊️ pic.twitter.com/H8Q9kLwmuF
— R&B Mari (@Mariannoo) December 6, 2022
— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) December 6, 2022
RIP Mills Lane. Legend.
Did you know?? https://t.co/sWKXJSy3VL
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 6, 2022
Mills Lane was a great guy, a super referee, and good friend. On the night of the “Bite Fight” @MikeTyson was disqualified for biting @holyfield ears Mills was the man in the middle, and did an outstanding job. May God rest his soul. We will all miss him. https://t.co/kxueYVy7i7
— Jim Gray (@JimGrayOfficial) December 6, 2022