To read Part 1 of Warrior on a Mission: Click Here
By Tom Gray: “My Dad noticed changes with my balance and speech. I just felt different and knew something was wrong. I pushed through and tried to hide it because I’m a warrior – that’s what I do.”
In the first round of his fight with Simon Brown, Norris, partially off balance, was dropped by a rocket left jab and appeared visibly shaken as he returned to his corner. Never one to back down in the heat of combat, Norris was determined to return fire, which would prove to be his undoing. He was hurt repeatedly throughout the contest, before being shockingly knocked out by a right hand in the fourth round.
The rematch was set for May 1994 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and “Terrible” Terry remembers that he had it all to prove after a second knockout loss. “Simon hit me hard to the back of my head in the first fight, so in the rematch I was fighting to kill.” says Norris angrily. “I beat on him for twelve rounds, just as I had done with Sugar Ray, but this was different. That rematch was payback!” Norris had looked sensational in his decision victory over Brown and a bright future lay ahead but as the door to one problem closed, another opened.
Luis Santana was a journeyman long before he was given a world title shot, having been stopped three times in fifteen career defeats. The Mexican was essentially a station wagon to the Norris Ferrari but in boxing, anything can happen, and usually does. Over a period of ten months both of these men would engage in an unlikely trilogy that is remembered for all the wrong reasons.
In fight one, Norris cracked Santana with a right hand to the back of the head and was disqualified, when his opponent could not continue. The rematch was ordered and Norris was astonishingly disqualified again for landing a big right hand shot after the bell to end round three. Asked if he got carried away the former champion was as honest as he could be; “I don’t think it was that. I was on the attack and I didn’t hear the bell.”
It was an incredible case of déjà vu, which was only put right, when Norris annihilated his over matched foe in two rounds of the third encounter. Shortly after regaining his crown, Norris was matched against IBF champion, Paul Vaden, who he soundly outpointed in a unification match and his status amongst the best pound for pound fighters on the plant was secure. The talented boxer puncher was close to huge paydays with Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad but just as everything was falling into place, disaster struck.
Between November 1997 and December 1998, Norris lost three consecutive times against Keith Mullings, Dana Rosenblatt and Laurent Boudouani, none of whom were in his class. Having just reached his thirties the former champion’s skills and punch resistance had inexplicably dissolved and retirement was the only option. Like many fighters the void left behind was hard to bare and a huge challenge emerged when Terry was diagnosed with a mild case of Parkinson’s syndrome.
“My doctor said that I may have had this syndrome during my last few fights.” says the former champ openly. “My Dad noticed changes with my balance and speech. I just felt different and knew something was wrong. I pushed through and tried to hide it because I’m a warrior – that’s what I do. Mental power is very important for a fighter, even more so than the physical side of boxing.”