Leon Spinks, the former world heavyweight boxing champion fighter who defeated Muhammad Ali to take the undisputed world heavyweight title, has died at the age of 67.
He died after a long battle with cancer, a spokesman said on Saturday, Reuters said with only a few close friends and family present due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile,” The Firm PR said in a statement sent to Reuters. “Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel.”
Spinks rose to fame winning the light-heavyweight gold medal for the United States at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He shocked the boxing world just two years later when he defeated Ali in a split decision. It was only his eighth professional.
That would be the highlight of Spinks’ career as Ali would get his revenge in the rematch seven months later in New Orleans.
Spinks would fight for a heavyweight crown only on one other occasion, losing to Larry Holmes in 1981.