Leon Spinks death: Former heavyweight champion who beat Muhammad Ali passes away at 67

Former professional boxer Leon Spinks
Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. Pic credit: ©

Leon Spinks, the former professional boxer best known for defeating the boxing legend Muhammad Ali to win the world heavyweight title, has passed away at 67.

Spinks’ publicist confirmed that he died on Friday night at a hospital in Henderson, Nevada, according to a family friend, Joe Bernal, USA Today reported.

“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,” a statement by his publicist read, according to CNN.

Leon Spinks cause of death

The former world heavyweight champion died after a protracted battle with prostate cancer.

He suffered multiple health issues in the years before he died, including intestinal damage in 2014, according to ESPN.

He had to undergo multiple surgeries due to intestinal damage after accidentally swallowing a piece of chicken bone.

Tributes on social media

Tributes have been pouring in on social media since news of Spinks’ death broke earlier today.

Prominent personalities from the boxing world who paid tribute on Twitter included the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and the boxing promoter Lou DiBella.

News of Spinks’ death comes after the actor and comedian Dustin Diamond died from cancer at 44.

Resident Evil 8 actress Jeanette Maus also died from cancer at 39.

Leon Spinks bio

Leon Spinks was born in St. Louis Missouri, in July 1953.

He was a former marine who represented the U.S. at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada. He won the gold medal as a light heavyweight.

He went on to snatch the undisputed heavyweight boxing championship belt from the boxing legend Mohammed Ali.

The match took place in Las Vegas on February 15, 1978, and it was only Spinks’ eighth professional bout, compared with Ali’s more than 55 fights.

In one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Spinks endured 15 rounds to defeat Ali by a split decision.

The victory earned him the distinction of the only boxer ever to take a title from Ali in the ring, according to ESPN.

But he was stripped of his WBC title after refusing to defend it against Ken Norton, then the top contender.

In September 1978, Spinks lost a rematch against Ali at the Louisiana Superdome. Ali won by a unanimous fifteen-round decision to regain his WBA heavyweight championship title.

Ali retired after the fight but returned from retirement a few years later to fight Larry Holmes.

Spinks married Brenda Glur in 2011.

His brother, Michael, was also a professional boxer.

Michael was a former undisputed light heavyweight and lineal heavyweight champion.

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