Leon Spinks died in a hospital near his home on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Henderson, Nevada, after suffering from prostate cancer for several years.
Spinks, a St. Louis native, won the gold medal for light heavyweight boxing at the 1976 Olympics and defeated the “Greatest of all time” Muhammad Ali, in 1978 for the W.B.A title. It was an epoch battle of youth vs. experience and master skill vs. sheer power and determination. For Black St. Louisans, it was hard to make a choice between the two boxers and many rooted for both, then Spinks shocked the world and as George Forman put it, “Beat the devil out of Muhammad, from pillar to post, even Muhammad was surprised.”
The rematch was greatly anticipated and Ali, who came better prepared for that match, legitimately regained his title. Sphinx continued his professional boxing career, alongside his brother Michael, also a heavyweight champion, and retired in 1997 with a record of 26-17-3.
Spinks died with his wife Glenda Blur Spinks by his side. He is survived by his brother Michael and his son Corey Spinks, a welterweight world champion.
Sources: ESPN, New York Times and USA Today