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TV courtroom judge and professional boxing referee Mills Lane will give Lafayette College’s annual Class of 1963 Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Colton Chapel. Lane’s career as a referee includes seven championship bouts involving “The Easton Assassin,” Larry Holmes.

With his bald head, bow tie and signature phrase “Let’s get it on!” the 60-year-old Lane is the most colorful, respected, and well-known referee in professional boxing. Mills’ national profile skyrocketed after he disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield on June 28, 1997. Lane also is a Nevada District Judge nicknamed “Maximum Mills” for his rock-solid will and stiff penalties.

Lane’s philosophy about boxing and life have landed him in the pages of People and Sports Illustrated, and earned him a place in Esquire’s “100 Best People” issue.

“I’m old, I’m bald, and I’m short not only in stature, but also in patience with those unwilling to give their best effort,” he says. “And I’m not talking about boxing. Life’s nothing but one continual battle from start to finish. We come into it kicking, and if we’ve got one ounce of gumption, we go out the same damned way.”

After he attended preparatory school and was accepted to the University of Michigan in 1956, the future seemed carved in stone for Lane: he’d attend college then return home to Combahee, his father’s 11,000-acre South Carolina plantation. If he tired of farming, there would be a career in the family banking business.

But while in the Marines, Lane learned discipline and boxing and won a welterweight championship while stationed in Okinawa. After an honorable discharge in August, 1959, Lane entered the University of Nevada-Reno in the winter of 1960 and chose business administration as his major while he minored in left hooks and right crosses. During that same year, he won the NCAA welterweight title and barely missed the Olympic team cut. He compiled an amateur boxing record of 60 wins and 4 losses while carrying a B-plus average in the classroom.

In the fall of 1964, Mills realized that the skills he honored as a boxer would also enable him to become a referee. His first assignment was a University of Nevada collegiate match. Once he felt comfortable managing the amateur bouts, Mills contacted the director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and began to referee on a professional level. During his first five years as a referee, Mills was also employed by the Reno Security National Bank loan office, where he repossessed cars for a living.

Lane graduated from the University of Utah’s College of Law in 1970 and passed the Nevada bar exam before going to work for the Washoe County District Attorney’s office as a trial prosecutor in 1971. In the same year, Mills refereed his first world championship bout. In 1979, Mills left the D.A.’s office and began working as chief deputy sheriff and special prosecutor for two years. In 1982, he was elected district attorney of Washoe County, and in 1990 was elected district judge. On April 30, 1998, Lane stepped down from his position in Reno and for a new bench in the TV courtroom series, Judge Mills Lane. He has also written an autobiography titled Let’s Get It On.

Lane lives in Reno with his wife of eighteen years, Kaye Pearce, and his sons Terry (15) and Tommy (11).

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