Spinks, who defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978 in one of the crucial surprising upsets in boxing historical past, died of most cancers.
Former world heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks, who took the crown from Muhammad Ali in 1978 earlier than dropping a rematch, died on Friday, in accordance with his publicists. He was 67.
Spinks died together with his spouse, Brenda Spinks, at his facet, after a five-year battle with most cancers. He had been admitted to a Las Vegas hospital in December, in accordance with an announcement from The Agency PR to Las Vegas tv station KVVU on Saturday.
“His last battle was fought with the identical talent, grace and grit that had carried him via so many lifetime challenges,” the assertion stated.
“Leon fought his battle with quite a few sicknesses resiliently, by no means dropping his trademark smile. Exhibiting true Spinks dedication, he by no means threw within the towel.”
Spinks completed his profession 26-17 with three attracts and 14 knockouts, however struggled to recapture the celebrity that got here early in his profession in one of the crucial surprising upsets in boxing historical past.
With a trademark toothy grin, Spinks fought his strategy to Olympic gold in 1976 as a US gentle heavyweight in Montreal and turned skilled six months later at age 23.
After solely eight skilled fights, seven wins and a draw, Spinks was despatched into the ring towards iconic Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978 on the Las Vegas Hilton.
Title captured from Ali
Spinks received a 15-round cut up determination over a 36-year-old Ali, who misplaced world crowns within the ring for the one time in his profession, falling to 55-3 as Spinks claimed the heavyweight title within the shortest time of any fighter in historical past, solely 13 months after his professional debut.
It will be the best second of his profession.
Seven months later, in a rematch earlier than 70,000 on the Superdome in New Orleans, a match and formidable Muhammad Ali received a unanimous 15-round determination in what can be the ultimate victory of his legendary profession, making him the primary three-time champion in heavyweight historical past.
Spinks had been stripped of the World Boxing Council crown for taking the rematch with Ali slightly than face necessary challenger Ken Norton, so the second battle was just for the World Boxing Affiliation title.
Spinks misplaced his subsequent battle as nicely however earned one other shot on the crown in 1981 towards Larry Holmes, solely to be stopped within the third spherical.
It took almost 5 years for Spinks to realize one other likelihood at a world crown however he fought for the WBC cruiserweight title in 1986, stopped within the sixth spherical by Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
That started a run the place he managed just one win and one attract 10 fights. He misplaced 5 of his last eight fights earlier than retiring in 1995.
Spinks’s son, Cory, was an undisputed welterweight champion from 2003 to 2005 and had temporary junior middleweight reigns in 2007 and 2009.
Spinks’s youthful brother Michael was a 1976 Olympic middleweight champion who was the undisputed gentle heavyweight champion from 1983 to 1985 and a heavyweight champion from 1985 to 1986.