Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, best known for defeating Muhammad Ali in 1978, has died on Friday night at the age of 67, according to a statement from his publicist. Spinks suffered from health issues in his later years and was diagnosed with advanced-stage prostate cancer in 2019. “His final fight was fought with the same skill, grace, and grit that had carried him through so many life challenges… 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,” the statement read.
Spinks was born on July 11, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri, and lived his later life in Las Vegas, Nevada. Spinks’s upbringing wasn’t easy – his father abandoned the family when Spinks was a young boy, so he was primarily raised by his mother. As an amateur, Spinks won numerous medals in the light heavyweight division. The first was bronze at the inaugural 1974 World Championships, followed by silver at the 1975 Pan American Games, and gold at the 1976 Summer Olympics; the latter alongside his brother Michael Spinks, who won middleweight gold. Leon served in the United States Marine Corps from 1973 to 1976.