Tommy Gunn (character)

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This article is about the fictional boxer. For other uses, see Tommy Gunn (disambiguation).
Tommy Gunn
Rocky character
First appearance Rocky V
Portrayed by Tommy Morrison
Nickname(s) The Machine Gun, The Clone Ranger, Rocky's Robot
Gender Male
Occupation Professional boxer (possibly retired)
Nationality American
Tommy Gunn (character)
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Nationality United States American
Born Dale, Oklahoma
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 23
Wins 22
Wins by KO 22
Losses 1
Draws 0

Tommy "The Machine" Gunn is a fictional character that appeared as Rocky Balboa's protégé and later antagonist in the 1990 boxing film Rocky V. He is portrayed by real life boxer Tommy Morrison. He is also noted for his mullet and for being the first of Rocky's opponents that wasn't the main antagonist of the same movie.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Tommy Gunn was a young fighter from Oklahoma. Gunn came from a dysfunctional family, where his alcoholic father frequently abused Tommy and his mother. One day, after finding out that Tommy got in trouble at school, his father beat him so badly that he couldn't walk for a week. When Tommy got older, he was able to stand up to his dad; he claimed that his father was the first person he ever knocked out, possibly starting his interest in boxing. Tommy Gunn traveled to Philadelphia to seek out a down-and-out Rocky Balboa, hoping for a chance to be taught boxing by the man himself. Tommy Gunn had an amateur record of 45-1-0. A panel of boxing experts and former champions voted Gunn the fifth greatest fighter to appear in the series. [1]


Tommy Gunn met up with Rocky Balboa and his brother-in-law Paulie Pennino and asked Rocky if he would teach him some of his moves; he also said he already had a professional record of 7 wins (all KO). However, Rocky ended up getting side-tracked by George Washington Duke, who wanted Rocky to come out of retirement so that Duke could promote a fight between him and the current champion Union Cane (Cane only became champion because Rocky retired). Rocky did tell Tommy, however, to stop by Mighty Mick's Gym later.

Tommy took Rocky up on his offer and came to his gym. Tommy was paired up with a sparring partner and insisted he didn't need headgear. Tommy's partner was beating him at first, but once Tommy got angry, he unloaded a vicious attack of punches on his partner and didn't stop until Rocky and Paulie interfered. Once things calmed down, Tommy asked Rocky to be his manager. Rocky was hesitant at first because he had no experience but agreed to because Tommy was fine with that. Rocky soon not only managed Tommy but allowed him to live with him and even treated him like a son, much to his real son's disappointment.

Thanks to Rocky's training, Tommy's talent was increased, leading to 15 more victories for him, all by knockout. As Tommy began to get media attention, however, he began to notice he was living in Rocky's shadow. Lots of Gunn's fame came indirectly through Rocky, slowly making him more and more frustrated. George Duke saw this as his chance to promote Tommy, so he approached him, promising him the fame and riches he couldn't get from being with Rocky. Having noticed that no formal papers were signed between Rocky and Tommy, Duke got Tommy to agree to work for him. Duke deceives Tommy into thinking Rocky doesn't have his best interests in mind. Rocky and Tommy confront each other on Christmas and Rocky tries to convince Tommy he is on his side, but Tommy doesn't believe him and leaves.

On January 1, 1990, the same day Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed first fought almost 15 years ago, Tommy is given a title shot against Union Cane. Tommy knocks out Cane in the first round, winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Tommy said afterward he wanted to thank to person who made this all possible, who turned out to be Duke, not Rocky. Tommy is booed by the crowd for leaving Balboa and criticized by reporters afterward. They state that Cane was nothing but a "paper champion" because he never won the belt and Tommy won't be a true champion until he beats a worthy opponent. Tommy becomes enraged over the press's reaction, while Duke senses an opportunity and tells Tommy that he needs to fight Rocky Balboa himself in the ring to show he is a worthy champion. Duke encourages Tommy to use any means necessary.

Later that night, Tommy and Duke, along with a small camera crew, confront Rocky in a bar back in Philadelphia, challenging him to fight Tommy. Paulie sticks up for Rocky and tells Tommy that if it were not for Rocky, he'd be nothing but a joke. Paulie then pushes Tommy away, enraging Tommy to punch Paulie in the face in return. This angers Rocky, who challenges Tommy to a street fight outside. Tommy accepts, much to the anger of Duke, who demands that the fight be only reserved in the ring and not on the streets. Tommy then angrily makes it clear to Duke that he doesn't own him and that no one else does either before the fight begins.

Rocky gains the upper hand early in the fight, and lets up on him after knocking him down. However, Tommy gets up and attacks Rocky from behind, knocking him down. After having a vision of his former mentor Mickey Goldmill, Rocky gets up and uses his street fight knowledge to defeat Tommy in front of the entire neighborhood, knocking Tommy into the grill of a bus with his final punch. Afterwards, Tommy is arrested, and Duke regards Tommy as a "bum." Duke tries to make one last attempt to promote Rocky, but when Rocky marches down to Duke, Duke tells him "touch me and I'll sue." Rocky punches him onto the hood of a car and states "Sue me for what?" as the crowd cheers for him.

Tommy's last known professional record was 23 wins (23 KO) and no losses or draws, although it's likely that he had been defeated soon after the fight because Duke told him he'd have no chance of being the champion and indeed no career if he lost, and he was not the champion in Rocky V's sequel, Rocky Balboa. Tommy most likely retired shortly after the street-fight; however, given the sixteen-year gap between the setting of the two movies, it is possible that he persisted but remained unable to get the respect he wanted from the crowds.

Alternate ending[edit]

There is a director's cut that features an alternate version of Tommy and Rocky's fight. After everyone goes outside expecting a fight, Rocky argues with the fight-hungry crowd, who want to see Rocky and Tommy fight. Rocky tells Tommy he cares about him more than George Duke ever will and that he needs to get his life together. Tommy sees Rocky's sympathy as insult and attacks him, knocking him down. Mickey's ghost appears to Rocky and tells him to get up and "beat the shit out of him." The street fight continues normally. Finally, after Rocky punches Tommy against the bus, he offers him his hand. Tommy accepts it. A bystander asks Tommy for his autograph, symbolising how all he wanted was respect.

Original ending[edit]

In the original draft, Tommy was to end up killing Rocky in the street fight; Rocky would have died in Adrian's arms on the steps to the museum in Philadelphia, but what would have happened to Tommy afterwards is unknown. Through most of the filming and production, this was to be the outcome; it wasn't until the film was nearing completion that Stallone decided against Rocky's death and went with the current ending. According to him, the director and the studio had second thoughts. Eventually, Stallone rewrote the ending, saying that he decided to change it because Rocky was supposed to be about perseverance and redemption and having him die in a street brawl would be against the roots of the series.[2]


  1. ^ "The Definitive Ranking of Rocky Fighters". Ruthless Reviews. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Hasted, Nick (1997-12-05). "He could have been a contender". London: Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
Preceded by
Ivan Drago
Rocky Balboa's main opponent Succeeded by
Mason Dixon