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Leon Spinks, the Olympic champion who shocked Muhammad Ali, has died

Leon Spinks
AFP via Getty Images
Legendary heavyweight Leon Spinks has passed away at the age of 67

LEON SPINKS has passed away at the age of 67. He had suffered from cancer and health problems in the later years of his life.

Spinks became an Olympic gold medallist at 1976 Montreal Games and famously defeated Muhammad Ali in a shock upset win in 1978, after having had just seven professional contests.

It made him the only man to take the world heavyweight title from Muhammad Ali in the ring. It’s an achievement that should never be downplayed or forgotten.

Muhammad Ali vs Leon Spinks


Ali came back to beat Spinks in their rematch seven months later, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion then himself.

Larry Holmes also boxed Spinks for the WBC heavyweight title in 1981. He said, “You gave me a hell of a fight but you were a good guy. You lived your life the way you wanted and it was a good one. I pray you rest in peace.”

Leon moved down to cruiserweight, where for his last world title fight he boxed Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Spinks ended his 26-17-3 career with a win and loss in his Saint Louis hometown.

His brother Michael Spinks’s win over Larry Holmes in 1985 made the pair the first brothers to both hold world heavyweight titles.

His management company said in a statement: “Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, Jr. lost his five-year battle with prostate and other cancers, at the age of 67 on Friday, Feb. 5 at 8:15 p.m. At the time of his passing his wife Brenda Glur Spinks was by his side. Due to COVID restrictions, only a few close friends and other family were present. 

Leon Spinks

“Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel.”

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