Leon Spinks

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Leon Spinks.jpeg

Name: Leon Spinks
Alias: Neon Leon
Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Birthplace: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Died: 2021-02-05 (Age:67)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 185cm
Reach: 193cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Amateur Career

Spinks vs. Sixto Soria at the 1976 Olympics
  • Amateur Record: 178-7 with 133 knockouts
  • 1974 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1974 Bronze Medalist (178 lbs) at the World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Results:
    • Jacob Odonga (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

1974, 1975, 1976
Succeeded by:
Larry Strogen
Preceded by:
Mate Parlov
Olympic Gold Medalist
Light Heavyweight Champion

Succeeded by:
Slobodan Kacar

Professional Career

Spinks vs. Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978

In his eighth professional fight one year and one month into his professional career, Spinks defeated the legendary Muhammad Ali by a fifteen-round split decision to win the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship on February 15, 1978. At the time Spinks had a record of 6-0-1 having fought just 31 rounds as a professional boxer, was a 10-1 underdog. 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 Heavyweight Champion.
  • Spinks lost the title back to Ali in a lack-luster return bout on September 15, 1978 by a unanimous decision.
  • In his first fight since losing to Ali, Spinks was knocked out in the first round by Gerrie Coetzee on June 24, 1979.
  • Spinks knocked out Bernardo Mercado, the WBC #1 contender, in nine rounds on October 2, 1980.
  • In an attempt to regain the World Heavyweight Championship, Spinks was knocked out in three rounds by WBC Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes on June 12, 1981.
  • After losing to Holmes, Spinks moved down to the cruiserweight division. On October 31, 1982, he won the vacant NABF Cruiserweight Championship with a controversial twelve-round unanimous decision against Jesse Burnett.
  • On March 22, 1986, Spinks challenged WBA Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi and was knocked out in six rounds.
  • Spinks, at age 48, made his last known appearance in a boxing ring on August 29, 2001, boxing a four-round sparring exhibition with open division amateur boxer Rick Wilson for charity in Chicago. Wilson, a former Golden Glover, was also in his forties!

Professional Record

Championship Record

  • 1 opponent (0 by KO) beaten for the World Heavyweight Title.

Regional Titles

  • NABF Cruiserweight Championship (1982)
  • WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight Championship (1985)


  • 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.

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]

Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts Career

Spinks-Goto World Title fight 1992
  • From 1986-1993, reportedly Spinks compiled a record of 22-11 (14 knockouts) in professional wrestling and mixed martial arts in Japan.
  • In a worked match, Spinks knocked out Tarzan Goto on March 25,1992 to win the WWA Martial Arts Heavyweight World Title in Japan.

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