Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks continues to fight a far bigger fight than any he engaged in in the ring. As fans may have read, Spinks, 66, was hospitalized earlier this week; his wife Brenda taking to social media to ask fans and supporters to pray for her husband. Some reports surfaced that stated how Spinks is “fighting for his life.”
Releasing an official statement to ESPN earlier today, Brenda wrote the following:
“Leon is currently hospitalized and in the care of an exceptional team of doctors,” she wrote. “We kindly request that privacy be given to his family at this time. I, Brenda, Leon’s wife, and our family would like to graciously thank all of Leon’s friends and fans for all of the outpouring support of love and prayers.”
So although it is not known just what is wrong with Spinks, it’s obviously something serious. In fact, Spinks might be battling more than one illness. We of course wish the former champ nothing but the best.
Spinks was a genuine superstar back in the 1970’s, for a while at least. It was an absolute stunner when a 24 year old Spinks, with a seven-fight pro record (one of these fights a draw with Scott LeDoux) upset the great Muhammad Ali in February of 1978. Ali may have been past his best and in nothing like top shape, but it was still a massive upset when such a novice defeated him. Spinks, though, had learned his trade at amateur level, winning Olympic gold in 1976.
It was, sadly, pretty much all downhill for Spinks, who was dubbed “Neon” Leon, after the win over Ali. Partying too much after hitting the top (sound familiar?) Spinks was in no shape to fight Ali in the September rematch. Stories circulated of how Spinks had bolted camp, later to be found drinking moonshine whisky in a shack. Spinks pleaded with his trainers, stating how he simply had to “cut loose” from the grind of training. Spinks liked a drink, along with other substances. It’s amazing to wonder how much more Spinks might have achieved had he been able to stay on the rails.
Fighting on for far too long – not hanging the gloves up until 1995, with a 26-17-3(14) record – Spinks suffered from slurred speech and in 2012 he was diagnosed with shrinkage in his brain. Since relocating to Las Vegas (where he is currently in hospital) and marrying Brenda, Leon has managed to live a relatively quiet, happy life. Again, we wish him all the best.