Tremendous sadness and so many tears, with the news that Leon Spinks has died in Las Vegas aged 67, after a long, incredibly brave and uncomplaining five years battle against cancer, with Wife Brenda and his Son Cory, by his bedside.
Leon shocked the World by defeating the Greatest Muhammad Ali on February 15th 1978 in only his eighth professional fight. No other heavyweight in history achieved Sport`s greatest prize in fewer bouts. A unique feat! During that terrific battle, Leon was inspired, energized, unrelenting and utterly brilliant. It won him a deserved split decision. His gap toothed smile in victory prompted headlines and captured hearts. On September 15th of the same year, Ali won the rematch in the New Orleans Superdome by UD.
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman said: “Leon Spinks will always be remembered for defeating the GOAT in only his eighth pro fight, after winning Olympic Gold. But more so, for that magical smile, which he always shared with the World.
“Our hearts go out to Brenda, who dedicated her life to give Leon the very best care during so many difficult times. She is a heroine and such an admirable human being. May Leon rest in peace.”
When Leon`s beloved brother Michael won the heavyweight championship in 1985, from Larry Holmes, they became the first brothers to each win the heavyweight championship.
Even before their successful professional careers Leon and Michael were brilliant amateur boxers. In the 1976 Montreal Olympics Leon won the Gold Medal in the light heavyweight division and Michael won gold in the middleweight division. The Golden dynamic duo!
Leon`s professional career spanned 1977-1995. He fought forty six times, with twenty six victories including fourteen KO`s, seventeen losses and three draws. On the thirty ninth anniversary of his victory over Muhammad Ali, Leon was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. In August 2017 he and Michael were inducted together. So were Tommy Hearns and Ken Norton.
Leon was a tremendously popular guest at World Boxing Council Conventions where the dazzle of his smile and the warmth as well as kindness of his personality melted the hearts of fellow pro boxers and the fans alike, winning him hosts of friends.
His great pride was to see his son Cory win world titles at welter and super welter. His terrible sadness was the murder of his son Calvin in 1990. But the legacy continues. Calvin`s son and Leon`s grandson also named Leon, is a promising southpaw light heavyweight.
Leon`s extraordinary willpower and self belief in winning the Heavyweight Crown, shone through and was an ally to him and with him, in his tremendous, so brave five year fight against prostrate cancer. The WBC and the Jose Sulaiman Fund was with him and Brenda, in support. We NEVER forget our champions, as they are champions for life. Yet, some battles by their nature cannot be won. It`s the extraordinary valiantly way in which they are courageously fought, which makes them so humbling and tremendously admirable.
Leon will forever be remembered for that extraordinary and magical night when he turned the world upside down. Like so many others in the years to come, he became a great friend of The Greatest.
This is a grievous loss. The entire World Boxing Council Family and its President Mauricio Sulaiman send their deepest Condolences to the Spinks Family and their many friends. Leon`s life showed us all, that dreams can be fulfilled, and gloriously, if you truly believe in yourself and work, as you`ve never worked before.
Rest in Peace Dear Leon. We will never forget you…
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