Leon Spinks

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Name: Leon Spinks
Alias: Neon Leon
Born: 1953-07-11
Birthplace: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 6′ 1″   /   185cm
Reach: 76″   /   193cm
Boxing Record: click

Trainers: Sam Solomon, George Benton, Emanuel Steward
Managers: Mitt Barnes, Butch Lewis
Leon Spinks Gallery

Amateur Career

  • Amateur Record: 178-7
  • 1974 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1974 Bronze Medalist (178 lbs) at the World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Results:
    • Jacob Odong (Uganda) KO 1
    • Nasley Thompson (Jamaica)/Mohamed Saoud (Morocco) WO
    • Oleg Karatayev (Soviet Union) RCS by 3
  • 1975 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1975 Silver Medalist (178 lbs) at the Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico.
  • 1976 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1976 Gold Medalist (178 lbs) at the Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Results:

Preceded by:
D.C. Barker
National AAU
Light Heavyweight Champion

Succeeded by:
Larry Strogen
Preceded by:
Mate Parlov
Olympic Gold Medalist
Light Heavyweight Champion

Succeeded by:
Slobodan Kacar

Professional Career

On February 15, 1978, with a record of 6-0-1 and just 31 rounds as a professional boxer, Spinks won the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship with a shocking fifteen-round split decision victory over the legendary Muhammad Ali. The fight was named Upset of the Year and Fight of the Year by The Ring. Spinks also received The Ring Progress of the Year Award.

On March 18, 1978, the WBC stripped Spinks of their title for choosing to give Ali a rematch instead of defending the title against Ken Norton, the WBC #1 contender. Spinks remained the WBA champion.

On September 15, 1978, Ali regained the WBA title with a decisive fifteen-round unanimous decision victory over Spinks.

On June 24, 1979, in his first fight since losing the title, Spinks was knocked out in one round by Gerrie Coetzee.

On October 2, 1980, Spinks knocked out Bernardo Mercado, the #1 WBC contender, in nine rounds.

On June 12, 1981, Spinks attempted to regain the WBC Heavyweight Championship when he fought Larry Holmes, but he was stopped in three rounds.

On March 22, 1986, Spinks fought Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA Cruiserweight Championship and was knocked out in six rounds.

On August 29, 2001, Spinks made his last known appearance in a boxing ring when he boxed a four-round exhibition with Rick Wilson for charity in Chicago.

Regional Titles

NABF Cruiserweight Championship (1982)

WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight Championship (1985)

Life After Boxing

Spinks worked as a greeter at Mike Ditka's restaurant in Chicago after retiring in 1988. He returned to the ring in 1991 and retired for good in 1995. Spinks made in excess of $5 million during career but ended up broke. He was homeless for a while and lived in shelters. In recent years, Spinks, who now suffers from dementia pugilistica, has lived in Columbus, Nebraska, working as a weekend custodian at a YMCA, sometimes unloading trucks at McDonald's, and volunteering to help the homeless. [1]


Leon Spinks is the brother of former Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Michael Spinks, father of the late Leon Calvin and former Welterweight and Junior Middleweight Champion Cory Spinks, and the grandfather of Leon Spinks III.

Spinks served in the United States Marine Corps from 1973 to 1976.

Preceded by:
Muhammad Ali
WBA Heavyweight Champion
1978 Feb 15 – 1978 Sep 15
Succeeded by:
Muhammad Ali
Preceded by:
Muhammad Ali
WBC Heavyweight Champion
1978 Feb 15 – 1978 Mar 18
Succeeded by:
Ken Norton