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Hall of Fame Boxing Referee and TV Judge Mills Lane Dead at 85: 'Amazing Father and Husband'

1990: Boxing referee Mills Lane. Mandatory Credit: Bob Martin/Allsport
1990: Boxing referee Mills Lane. Mandatory Credit: Bob Martin/Allsport

Bob Martin/Allsport

The boxing world is mourning the death of famed referee Mills Lane.

Mills' son, Terry Lane, confirmed with ESPN that Mills died in his home in Reno, Nevada on Tuesday morning. Mills' wife Kay, as well as Terry and their second son Thomas (a.k.a. Tommy) were by his side.

Mills, who was also a real-life judge and starred in a television court series, was 85.

His death comes more than 20 years after he suffered a stroke, which took his ability to talk.

"The past 20 years after the stroke were pretty tough, to be honest," Terry told the sports outlet, adding that his family is "relieved of the outpouring of support."

Reflecting on the life his father lived, and the selfless actions of his mother, Terry added to ESPN, "He was just this really amazing father and husband and I don't know if people got to see that kind and sensitive side of him. My mom took care of him since the stroke; he never spent one night in a nursing home. I don't know if Dec. 6 is my dad's date of death or a new life for her."

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Terry has followed in his father's footsteps and is a figure in the boxing world himself as he manages Chinese boxers Zhang Zhilei and Fanlong Meng.

Terry did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Tommy also opened up about his father and told Reno Gazette-Journal that Mills spent his final week in hospice.

"He took a significant decline in his overall situation," Tommy told RGJ. "It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family."

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Added Tommy: "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 told RGJ the family of four made the most of Mills' last moments and watched his favorite movies, as well as a fight featuring Mills from his own days as a college boxing champion that dates back to 1960.

He revealed that Mills "hated funerals," so the family will instead host a memorial service in his honor.

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Mills first began boxing in 1959, when he served in the Marine Corps, according to Reno's NBC affiliate News 4.

After learning of the University of Nevada's boxing program, Mills enrolled in the school and went on to win the NCAA Welterweight title in 1960. His skills nearly garnered him a spot on the Olympic boxing team, per News 4. Holding a 10-1 record in college, Mills then went pro.

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He graduated from UNR in 1963 and began serving as a referee for boxing matches. During his career, he coined the infamous phrase, "Let's get it on" before each fight, and was the officiant for the infamous spar between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, when Tyson bit Holyfield's ear. Mills ultimately disqualified Tyson from the fight and continued to referee matches through the 90s.

Along with boxing, Mills had a notable career as a prosecutor for the Washoe County District Attorney's office, News 4 reported. In 1982, he was elected as the District Attorney before becoming a judge for Washoe County's Second Judicial District Court eight years later. In 1998, he hosted a courtroom series, Judge Mills Lane, for three years.