Earlier this week, I wrote an article about Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear. Trips down memory lane have tangents of all kinds, and somehow I found myself lost in the late 1990s. Lauren Hill and Fatboy Slim, Mike Tyson and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, skipping school and watching Judge Miles Lane.
The infamous fight that was Holyfield vs. Tyson II, AKA The Bite Fight, seemed to make stars out of everyone involved. Evander defended his heavyweight belt, the second of his eventual three times holding the title, a natural cruiserweight Holyfield established himself as arguably the best of his generation. Even much maligned Tyson’s reputation for oddity was only heightened after the incident. His profile shot through the roof. But the third man in the ring on that bizarre day got his own public profile from the fight. Referee Miles Lane became an overnight celebrity for his no nonsense response to the Tyson ear bite.
Mills Lane was only the referee that night because of a last minute protest by the Tyson camp against the original judge. Mills Lane watched twice as Tyson bite at Holyfield’s ear, the second time successfully biting a chunk off. That was enough for him. Stopping the fight and disqualifying Tyson won over the hearts of the middle of America. Overnight, his Georgian accent and “let’s get it on” catchphrase were in demand.
Within the year, the former district judge in Nevada was on national syndication as Judge Mills Lane. The same no bullshit attitude that booted “Iron” Mike Tyson was now settling small claims disputes for the country’s entertainment. America loved Mills Lane.
And good was this show awesome. There are a few episodes available on YouTube, but the one I offer you is the dispute of a homeowner who received his newly purchased home in a messy condition. The best parts are Mills Lane giving his own unique spin on common idioms. He also stutters for a full 15 seconds, and yells at a grown man. It’s pretty much ideal day time television in 1999.
The phenomenon that is Judge Mills Bee Lane III could not contained by mere daytime TV. When MTV created a claymation gladiatorial event called Celebrity Death Match, only one referee could control the mayhem. “I’ll Allow It” became the comedic relief and uniting joke of the show. Our simple Southern judge was becoming a pop culture icon and rolling in the voice-over dough.
So what ever happened to our beloved Mills Lane? Sadly, in 2002 Judge Mills Lane suffered a stroke. He made a rare public appearance in 2006 at the commemoration of a Nevada courthouse named in his honor. In 2012, he was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Judge Mills Lanes remains one of the iconic figures of boxing officiating. A man who embody what a referee should be. Combat sports stories can go in bizarre directions, and there is no real way to know where the fickleness of fame will fall, but I for one am glad that we decided to make Mills Lane famous.