Former boxer and heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks, best known for defeating Muhammad Ali in 1978, has died at the age 67. Spinks lost his five-year battle with prostate and other cancers on Friday evening, his publicist announced.
“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,” the statement read.
“Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel.” it added
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Spinks represented the United States during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, as a light heavyweight and won a gold medal. He then faced Muhammad Ali in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 15, 1978, shockingly defeating Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.
It was his eighth professional bout and one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. Ali beat Spinks when they met again seven months later at the Superdome in New Orleans and reclaimed the heavyweight title. Spinks retired in 1995 with a 26-17-3 record with 14 knockouts. In 2017, he was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.