Early reports are coming in that the sport of boxing has lost a legend. Leon Spinks died due to multiple forms of cancer after battling for several years. The former world champion passed at the age of 67.
Spinks is perhaps best known in boxing for defeating Muhammad Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight king. TMZ Sports first reported Spinks had been hospitalized on Dec. 2. Spinks’ wife Brenda Glur Spinks said in a Facebook post on Dec. 9:
“Dear Friends: I know it’s been awhile. However, you know how I Believe in the Power of Prayer. It’s been a tough year for us. Leon has endured a lot of medical problems. I’m reaching out to ask you to kindly pray for my Beautiful Husband Leon. So that he may overcome the obstacles that have crossed his path. We Love You All & Appreciate Your Support.”
Fox News reported the former Marine and Olympic gold medalist suffered brain shrinkage in 2012. The shrinkage was due to his boxing career. He would fight until 1995 and have a final record of 26-17-3 with 14 knockouts.
Boxing Scene said of the Ali bout, “Leon entered that fight with only seven prior professional fights, weighing only 197-pounds and being outweighed by over 25 pounds.”
Spinks defeated Ali by split decision in Las Vegas in February 1978. Spinks, a St. Louisan, had been living in Las Vegas since 2011. Ali would recapture the WBA and lineal heavyweight titles in their rematch that September.
Leon’s brother Michael Spinks also won gold for the U.S. team and pro titles. ‘Neon Leon’ and Michael ‘Jynx’ Spinks were inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.