Boxing Legend Dead: Heavyweight Champ Beat Muhammad Ali

Leon Spinks

Getty

Boxing legend and former heavyweight world champion Leon Spinks Jr. is dead. According to a press release sent to Heavy by the family, Spinks died at age 67 after a five-year battle with prostate and other cancers.

Spinks died in Las Vegas on Friday, February 5 at 8:15 p.m. with his wife, Brenda Glur Spinks, by his side, as well as a few close friends and other family members.


Spinks Was Olympic Champ and Professional Champ

Spinks won the gold medal as a light heavyweight boxer for the United States at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Just two years later, Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali via split decision in just his eighth professional prizefight to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Spinks lost the rematch to Ali via unanimous decision later that same year, and the famed fighter went on to compete in 46 total professional fights, winning 26 of them.

Spinks finished his career 26-17-3 with 14 KOs.


More About ‘Neon Leon’

Spinks, aka “Neon Leon”, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 11, 1953. He discovered his passion for boxing while serving his country in the Marines.

Both Spinks and his younger brother, Michael Spinks, won gold medals for the United States in 1976. That famed team won seven medals overall, including five gold. The team also included “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Howard Davis Jr.

Additionally, the Spinks brothers each went on to win world championships in the professional ranks.

Spinks moved to Las Vegas in 2011. He was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.


Spinks Will Be Remembered As Champion

After losing the heavyweight championship to Ali in the rematch in 1978, Spinks competed twice more for world titles.

Spinks was stopped in the third round by WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes in 1981. He lost via sixth-round stoppage to WBA cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1986.

But Spinks will forever be remembered as a champion in the sport. His victory at the Olympics combined with his shocking heavyweight championship win over Ali in their first fight in 1978 will forever mark Spinks as a fighter who accomplished remarkable feats when it mattered most.

According to the family, his final fight against cancer was fought with the same skill, grace, and grit that carried him through his many life challenges.


Boxing Community Pays Tribute To Spinks

The boxing world paid tribute to Spinks via social media after the news of his death broke.

For many, Spinks will forever be remembered for his stunning victory over Ali.

Boxing writer Kevin Iole shared his feelings about the fighter’s passing.

Journalist Corey Erdman also posted about the death.

Boxing promoter Lou DiBella remembers the former champ as a “nice man” and a champ.

Former heavyweight champ Holmes remembered Spinks.

Boxing champ Claressa Shields posted her tribute.

Devin Haney did the same thing.

But one boxing fan’s post probably said it best. His tribute said, “Leon Spinks may not have had the most impressive career in terms of amount of defeats he suffered, however, no one can deny the amazing feat of becoming undisputed heavyweight champion and beating one of the greatest ever in Muhammad Ali in only his eighth professional fight.”

Spinks will not be forgotten by the boxing world.

READ NEXT: List of UFC Fighters With Titles in Multiple Weight Classes

Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson

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