Boxing is in mourning. Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, who stole the crown from Mohamed Ali in 1978, died on Friday at the age of 67, according to his entourage. Sick of cancer, Spinks was hospitalized in December in Las Vegas, according to a statement from the communications agency The Firm, reported by the KVVU television channel in Las Vegas. “He fought the final battle with the same qualities (…) which accompanied him in the face of many challenges in life. Leon fought against many diseases, never losing his legendary smile. Showing genuine determination, he never threw in the towel, “the statement added.
Olympic champion in 1976
During his career Spinks recorded 27 wins, 17 losses and three draws. As an amateur, he won Olympic light heavyweight gold in 1976 in Montreal, before turning pro six months later at the age of 23.
After eight fights (7 wins and 1 draw), Spinks had met on February 15, 1978 in Las Vegas the already famous Mohamed Ali, then 36 years old. After 15 rounds, just thirteen months after his debut as a pro, Spinks was declared the winner by split decision, the most glorious moment of his career. Seven months later, Ali took his revenge by unanimous decision, in front of 70,000 spectators gathered at the Superdome in New Orleans.