Boxing ref Mills Lane, who officiated the Tyson-Holyfield 'Bite Fight', dies

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Former boxing referee Mills Lane (L) and boxing referee Joe Cortez are inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame during the inaugural induction gala in Las Vegas on 10 August 2013.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Former boxing referee Mills Lane (L) and boxing referee Joe Cortez are inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame during the inaugural induction gala in Las Vegas on 10 August 2013. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mills Lane, the iconic boxing referee who officiated the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield "Bite Fight" and myriad other championship bouts, has died, the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame confirmed on Tuesday.

"The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame mourns the passing of great referee Mills Lane," the institution said on its website.

The 85-year-old, who suffered a stroke in April of 2002, was with wife Kaye and sons Terry and Tommy when he died at his home in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, Tommy Lane told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

"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."

Lane was known for his trademark pre-fight phrase "Let's get it on," and for a no-nonsense attitude in the ring.

A onetime US Marine and boxer himself, he graduated from law school in 1970.

He was a respected referee when he became a household name when he was the third man in the ring for a 1997 heavyweight rematch between Tyson and Holyfield - which ended with Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield's ear.

Lane had also refereed Tyson's comeback victory over Peter McNeeley in Las Vegas, in which the overmatched McNeeley was disqualified when his manager entered the ring.

Lane was inducted in both the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Lane, a longtime resident of Reno, also served as a district attorney and later a District Court judge in Washoe County, Nevada.

The courthouse in Reno now carries his name, and television viewers were able to get a taste of his style on the bench from the TV show "Judge Mills Lane," which ran for four seasons until 2001.

Former Nevada Athletic Commission executive director, Marc Ratner, said Lane was one of the top fight referees in the world.

"I was very blessed to have him, to be able to assign him some of the major fights," Ratner told the Gazette-Journal. "Great credit to the sport. Just a wonderful human being."


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