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 fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel.
Leon will be remembered as a beloved husband, father, and brother. Leon served our country in the United States Marine Corps, who he proudly represented when he won a Gold Medal in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
But Leon truly cemented his place in history on February 15, 1978, in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he shocked the world by beating Muhammed Ali, to become the undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing champion Leon entered that fight with only seven prior professional fights, weighing only 197 pounds and being outweighed by over 25 pounds. Leon fought 72 professional fights, winning 46 of them.
*On behalf of Leon’s wife, Brenda Glur Spinks, no additional commentary or interviews aside from the release and obituary are available at this time.
Easily the high point of Spink’s professional career was his massive 15 round split decision win over heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978.
What was so impressive about that win for Spinks is he did it in just his eighth fight as a pro. Spinks was obviously given the title shot based on his popularity from the success he achieved in winning a gold medal for the United States in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada.
Who can forget Spinks’ gold medal final beating Cuba’s Sixto Soria in a thrilling contest.
If Spinks had hung up his gloves following his win over Ali, it would have been a storybook way to end his career.
Boxing fans would have wondered about what Spinks could have accomplished, and there wouldn’t have been the big let down of what happened later when his career fizzled quickly.
Additionally, Spinks lacked the size of Ali for that fight. He had to bulk up to compete. Ali looked thick around the middle, and it was clear that he hadn’t put in the right amount of training for the contest.
He likely assumed that his size and experience advantage over the much smaller Spinks would be enough to carry him to victory. Spinks’ superior conditioning was too much for Ali in that fight, and that enabled him to win. Ali did finish strong in the 15th round, but it wasn’t enough.
In their rematch later in the year, Ali beat Spinks by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on September 15th, 1978. This time, Ali took his training seriously and was too much for Spinks.