- "You don't own me! You don't own me! Nobody does! I want my respect."
- ―Tommy Gunn
Tommy "The Machine" Gunn, also nicknamed the Clone Ranger by the press is a professional boxer and one of the deuteragonists-turned-secondary antagonist in Rocky V.
Gunn left his hometown in Oklahoma, moving to Philadelphia in Rocky V with only a few hundred dollars to his name. He sought out Rocky Balboa when arriving in Philadelphia, hoping that Rocky would train him. At first, Balboa was reluctant due to the feeling that managing wasn’t for him, but after seeing Gunn’s persistence and skills, he decided to give him a shot. Balboa trained Gunn to 14 consecutive victories in the heavyweight division. During this time, the media began calling Gunn the ‘’Clone Ranger’’ and ‘’Rocky’s Robot’’ due to the similar styles. Gunn eventually left Balboa and signed a contract with George Washington Duke; Duke offered Gunn a title fight and more money. Gunn would go on to defeat Union Cane, capturing the Heavyweight Championship. Despite the victory, the press still labelled Gunn as Balboa’s clone and called him a paper champion. Gunn infuriated by this went to the local bar Balboa was at and challenged him to a fight, Balboa turned down the offer until Gunn punched Paulie. Balboa challenged Gunn to a fight in the street, Gunn accepted and brawled with Balboa. It all ended when Balboa knocked Gunn out, the police then picked Gunn up and arrested him.
Tommy Gunn grew up in the streets of Oklahoma; he mentions that his family didn’t have much and that he was forced to fend for himself. Gunn’s father was also an alcoholic that regularly beat him and his mother up. He attributes a lot of his fury in the ring to his father, stating that the first man he knocked out was his father and that every time he steps in the ring, it’s his father that he sees. Gunn turned pro at the age of 18 and generated a record of 8-0 (8 KOs) before he met Balboa. Gunn packed up all his belongings and left any family he had left, heading to Philadelphia and seeking out Rocky Balboa, hoping that Balboa would manage and train him.
Gunn a young fighter from Oklahoma, arrived in Philadelphia to seek out a down-and-out Rocky Balboa, hoping for a chance to be taught boxing greatness from the man himself. Despite a poor first impression in Mighty Mick's Gym, he asked Rocky to become his manager and trainer. Holding a perfect record of eight fights fought and won, he held potential and knew it, he hoped that Rocky would help him get as far as becoming the new champion. Rocky was hesitant at first, but eventually not only accepted to manage him, but allowed him to stay with his family.
Thanks to Rocky's managing, Tommy's great talent was sharpened, and Tommy won 14 consecutive fights with great success; the first eight on his own, and between 1986 to early 1990, won the others with the help of Rocky. However, as he climbed the ladder of success, he took notice that he was almost always praised indirectly through Rocky, such as sports magazine covers referring to him as "Rocky's Gunn." He was aware that he was living in his shadow, and felt he was gaining no fame of his own, increasingly becoming frustrated.
Less-than-reputable promoter George Washington Duke approached Tommy eventually, promising him the fame and riches he couldn't get from being with Rocky, and having noticed that no formal papers were signed between the pair, Duke signed Tommy in for himself.
Duke finally allowed Tommy what he wanted: a shot at the title. After a somewhat short and non-spectacular battle between he and Union Cane, Tommy won and became champion, but the crowd rejected him, praising Rocky instead, as Tommy did not fight with the heart and passion that Rocky did, and as the media later criticized him for, he seemingly won the belt with no difficulty or struggle, saying that Union Cane wasn't close to the Boxers Rocky had to face like Apollo, Lang and Drago. He was then challenged by journalists and sports critics to "fight a real fighter this time." It is also noteworthy to mention that while Rocky trained him to become the fighter that he is, Tommy gave him no credit upon his victory and thanked Duke instead, which did not help him capture the crowd.
Expressing his anger to Duke over everyone's crude reaction towards his victory, the latter told him that to get the respect he wants so much, he had to drag Rocky into the ring through any means and beat him. Duke kept insisting that Balboa had to be humiliated and insulted, and goaded into fighting.Later that night, Duke and Tommy, along with a small camera crew, went after Rocky in the city, challenging him to fight with Tommy. Duke's scheme went completely wrong when Tommy, in a fit of anger, punched down Rocky's brother-in-law, Paulie Pennino, who began criticising him for treating Rocky so bad and even betraying him, as he was the one who brought him to victory. Rocky's reaction to this act was to challenge Tommy to try knocking him down now, adding that "his ring's outside.", much to Duke's dismay as he wanted both of them to fight in the official boxing ring.
A heated street fight triggered between the two former friends. Rocky used his street fight skills to beat Tommy. Duke told him during the fight with Rocky "If you lose, you're finished.". Despite being the Heavyweight Champion, the shame of being involved in a street fight with his former trainer would have had a negative impact on his career, and after the fight, Duke dumped Gunn who was picked up by the police. It's unknown what Gunn's fate was following his arrest. It is assumed that he was stripped of his Heavyweight Championship as he lost to a true champion and instigated an unlawful fight in the street.
Behind the Scenes
- There is a directors cut that features an alternate version of Tommy and Rocky's fight. After everyone goes outside expecting a fight, Rocky argues with a spectator who wants to see Rocky "teach Tommy a lesson." Rocky yells to the fight-hungry crowd they know nothing about this. Rocky tells Tommy he cares about him more than George Duke ever will. Tommy, enraged, attacks Rocky. Rocky has a different vision with Mickey, then gets up and the street fight continues normally. After knocking Tommy down, Rocky tries to tell him it's over. Tommy still gets up and charges at Rocky. Finally, after Rocky punches Tommy against the bus, he offers him his hand. Tommy accepts it. A bystander asks Tommy for his autograph.