Spinks over Ali

February 15, 1978.

I was a senior at Kirkwood High School, had been accepted to all the colleges I applied to and the Pioneers were on a win streak that would carry us to the Final Four of the state tournament.

Oh, and on this night, I was going to watch Muhammad Ali beat the heck out of local Olympic boxing hero Leon Spinks in a nationally televised championship bout on CBS.

Do not get me wrong, I cheered on Leon and brother Michael Spinks throughout their careers. A mural I pieced together from Sports Illustrated photos in my bedroom during the mid1970s still features Leon and Michael on the podium after winning respective gold medals in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

But on this evening after Valentine’s Day, I was – as always – all in for Ali. Spinks whipped Ali that night in Las Vegas. It was a 2-1 split decision and the judge who awarded the fight to Ali should have been investigated. It still stands among boxing’s greatest upsets and it sent me to bed a crushed young man.

Spinks, 67, died on Feb. 6, 2021 after battling prostate and other cancers as valiantly as he fought Ali to win the heavyweight title.

Spinks would lose a rematch to Ali in September. Spinks was the last man Ali beat in the ring. Both fighters probably should have retired that night.

Black powers

The Tampa Bay Bucs dismantled the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in the Super Bowl last Sunday. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians praised his Black offensive and defensive coordinators for the respective game plans that shredded the Chiefs defense and stifled its powerful offense.

Take bows, Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles.

In the two weeks between the NFC and AFC championship games, Leftwich found ways to open passing lanes for quarterback Tom Brady that had not been exposed by any offense taking on the Chiefs.

As for Bowles, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said it best.

“Todd had a good plan,” Reid said. “Give credit to Todd for the job that he did. He got us.”

Birds of paradise

The Colorado Rockies should be prepared for irate fans to storm their stadium after trading star third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Austin Gomber and a band of prospects that most folks have never heard of before.

The Rockies also will send $50 million over the next several years to help cover Arenado’s new deal with the Cardinals. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch says the sever-year pact is worth $214 million – the highest in Cardinals history by a whopping $80 million.

In an introductory press conference last week, Arenado said he plans to be in St. Louis for a long time. But he certainly does not have to.

Arenado, a five-time All Star and winner of eight consecutive Gold Gloves for his stellar play at third base, can become a free agent after this season and again in after the 2022 campaign.

The Reid Roundup

It has been 16 years since Cory Spinks, the undisputed world welterweight champion, took on Zab Judah in a rematch at the Savvis Center in St. Louis on Feb. 14, 2005. More than 22,000 jammed the sold-out venue to see Spinks, a son of Leon Spinks, in the first major boxing bout in St. Louis in 40 years. Judah won by a technical knockout in the ninth round… With school board approval, former Kirkwood, Missouri and NFL star wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will be hired to lead the Pioneers football program… Britt Reid’s automobile accident in Kansas City on Feb. 4 – and the ongoing investigation to determine if he was impaired – shook the Chiefs. Reid, head coach Andy Reid’s son and linebacker coach, smashed into two non-moving vehicles on the shoulder of a highway entrance and left a 5-year-old Black girl hospitalized, unconscious and in critical condition.

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.”

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