Former boxing world champion who beat Muhammad Ali dies aged 67
Former professional boxer Leon Spinks and unidentified guest arrive at the 2006 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California July 12, 2006. Picture taken July 12, 2006. [REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo]

Former undisputed heavyweight world champion Leon Spinks has died at the age of 67.

Spinks, who had been battling prostate cancer for the last five years, passed away on Friday evening surrounded by his close family.

His wife Brenda and his son Cory, also a former world champion, were among those present.

Spinks was born into the projects of Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis, Missouri and served in the Marines.

He won Olympic gold in Montreal in 1976 and within two years had shocked the great Muhammad Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion as a professional.

Spinks had fought just seven times prior to upsetting Ali and weighed 198lb, two pounds under today’s cruiserweight division.

Former boxing world champion who beat Muhammad Ali dies aged 67
Former professional boxer and heavyweight champion Leon Spinks poses as he arrives at the 13th annual ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood July 13, 2005. [REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo]

Despite being outweighed by 25lb, he earned a split-decision victory over Ali after 15 hard-fought rounds.

Spinks would lose the rivals’ rematch seven months later as Ali won a convincing unanimous decision.

He lost his next challenge for a world title three years later when he was stopped by Larry Holmes and he was also defeated by Dwight Muhammad Qawi when he dropped down a division later in his career.

Indeed, having faced Ali with a record of 6-1, Spinks retired 17 years later with a modest record of 26-17-13

Leon’s brother Michael was also a world champion,holding the undisputed light heavyweight title from 1983 to 1985, and the lineal heavyweight title from 1985 to 1988.

His son Cory was first the welterweight world champion and then won a light-middleweight title.

Spinks moved to Las Vegas in 2011 where he quickly felt at home with the city throwing him a surprise 60th birthday party at the former Las Vegas Hilton, site of his most famous victory.

In August 2017 Spinks was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame along with his brother Michael.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here