Who Was Leon Spinks? Wiki, Biography, Age, Family, Career, Wife, Children, Cause of Death

Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks

Leon Spinks Biography, Wiki

Leon Spinks was an American professional boxer who competed from 1977 to 1995, has died. In only his eighth professional fight, he won the undisputed heavyweight championship in 1978 after defeating Muhammad Ali in a split decision, in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Spinks was later stripped of the WBC title for facing Ali in an unapproved rematch seven months later, which he lost by unanimous decision.

Besides being heavyweight champion and his characteristic gap-toothed grin, Spinks gained notoriety for the disaster which befell his career following the loss to Ali. However, he did challenge once more for the WBC heavyweight title in 1981 (losing to Larry Holmes by TKO in the third round), and the WBA cruiserweight title in 1986.

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.

Spinks also had a brief career as a professional wrestler in the 1990s, working for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) and holding the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship in 1992.


Leon Spinks has died at the age of 67-years-old.

Family & Siblings

Spinks was born and raised in St. Louis.

Leon’s son, Cory Spinks, held the undisputed welterweight title, and was the IBF junior middleweight champion twice.

In 1990, Leon’s other son, Leon Calvin, was shot to death in East St. Louis as he was driving home from his girlfriend’s house. Calvin was an aspiring light heavyweight pro boxer with a record of 2–0, with the two pro bouts occurring only a month before he died. Leon’s grandson and Calvin’s son, Leon Spinks III, is an aspiring light heavyweight southpaw boxer with a pro record of 11–3–1 with seven knockouts, his last outing being a six-round draw with Robbie Cannon in October 2017.

His son Cory, 42, is a former undisputed welterweight champion who also won a world title in the light-middleweight division.

Spinks’ younger brother Michael, 64, was undisputed light-heavyweight champion for a period in the 1980s, before moving up to heavyweight, where he won the IBF title and avenged Leon’s loss to Holmes.


Spinks won three consecutive national AAU light heavyweight championships from 1974 to 1976, the first of which came against future champion Michael Dokes.

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Spinks won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. He defeated Abdel Latif Fatihi, Anatoliy Klimanov, Ottomar Sachse, and Janusz Gortat en route to the final, where he defeated Sixto Soria to win the gold.

Spinks finished his amateur career with a record of 178–7 with 133 knockouts.

Spinks debuted professionally on January 15, 1977 in Las Vegas, Nevada, beating Bob Smith by knockout in five rounds. His next fight was in Liverpool, England, where he beat Peter Freeman by a first-round knockout. Later, he saw an improvement in opposition quality, when he fought Pedro Agosto of Puerto Rico and knocked him out in round one. He then fought Scott LeDoux to a draw and defeated Italian champion Alfio Righetti by a decision.

Cause of Death

The American achieved a famous upset win over Muhammad Ali in 1978, in just his eighth professional fight.

He had suffered with 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 lifetime challenges,” said a statement from his management company.

The former US marine died on Friday evening in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife Brenda Glur Spinks by his side.

Spinks perceptibly slurred his words after his active boxing days, and was diagnosed in 2012 with shrinkage in his brain, which doctors said was likely caused by the accumulated punches that he took during his career. In 2011, Spinks and his wife Brenda moved to Las Vegas. Spinks was hospitalized twice in 2014 in a Las Vegas hospital for surgery due to abdominal problems, from which he recovered.

In 2019, it was revealed that Spinks was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He died at a hospital in Henderson, Nevada on February 5, 2021, at age 67.