Former heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks Jr., who beat Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title in 1978, has died. He died on Friday after a five-year battle with the prostate and other cancers, his representatives at Firm PR confirmed. He was 67 years old.
“Leon has resiliently fought his battle with many diseases, never losing his characteristic smile,” said a statement from the PR cabinet. “Showing Spinks’ true determination, he never threw in the towel.
Born July 1, 1953 in St. Louis, Spinks discovered his love for boxing while serving in the Marines. He started his career with several wins in the light heavyweight division. He first won the bronze medal at the 1974 World Championships, then silver at the 1975 Pan American Games and later the gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
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While Spinks had many victories under his belt before making his professional debut in 1977, he solidified his place in boxing history by upsetting the legendary Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978 in Las Vegas. In what would become one of boxing’s most memorable victories, Spinks became the heavyweight champion.
In the 1990s, Spinks took off his boxing gloves and ventured into the wrestling world, winning the Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling world title in 1992. With the victory in boxing, he became the second man, after Primo Carnera, to hold titles in boxing and boxing. fight.
In 2009, Spinks appeared in Pete McCormack’s documentary Facing Ali. Spinks was among the notable boxers who shared their experience against the icon. Henry Cooper, George Foreman and Joe Frazier were also featured in the documentary.
Two years later, Spinks moved to Las Vegas and in 2017 he and his brother Michael Spinks were inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
Spinks is survived by his wife Brenda Glur Spinks, who was by his side at the time of his death.