After he stunned the world in the boxing ring, legendary boxing champion Leon Spinks left his mark as a loyal U.S. Marine and an esteemed athlete. Unfortunately, the heavyweight boxer, who once defeated Muhammad Ali, has died.
On Friday night (Feb. 5), Spinks took his last breath following a five-year battle with prostate cancer. According to TMZ Sports, the 67-year-old passed away in Henderson, Nevada while surrounded by his wife Brenda as well as other family members and friends.
The St. Louis native’s career in boxing began after he left the Marine Corp. In 1976, Spinks made it to the Montreal Olympic games and claimed the gold medal as a light heavyweight. He spent two years fighting professionally before he met Ali in the ring. During their match in February 1978, Spinks came out on top as the world heavyweight champion after eight professional fights, which is the shortest time in history. He remains the only fighter to ever swipe a belt from Ali.
Despite the historic feat, Spinks’ win over Ali didn't last long. In a rematch seven months later, Ali reclaimed the title after defeating Spinks. It was the final victory of Ali’s career before he retired. Spinks continued his career until 1995 after he lost his match against Fred Houpe. Spinks managed to retire at age 42 with a stellar record of 26-17-3 with 14 KOs.
After moving on to wrestling and mixed martial arts, the former Marine was formally recognized by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2017. By that time, Spinks was already dealing with medical issues stemming from a piece of chicken bone he swallowed in 2014, which caused intestinal damage and led to multiple surgeries. In 2019, he was in and out of the hospital for treatment for prostate cancer.
Numerous people took to social media to memorialize the late champ. See what they had to say below. Rest in peace, Leon Spinks.
The boxing world has lost Leon Spinks . We send our sympathy to Brenda, family and friends. May he Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/rGnPfbHWAp— Mauricio Sulaiman (@wbcmoro) February 6, 2021
#LeonSpinks, we became friends. He and his brother, Michael made history by winning Olympic gold medals in 1976. He won the heavyweight championship. I liked him very much. May his Soul Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/NKzqkQ6FMz— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) February 7, 2021