|Real name||Leon Spinks|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
July 11, 1953 |
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Wins by KO||14|
Leon Spinks (born July 11, 1953) is an American former boxer, who had an overall record of 26 wins, 17 losses and three draws as a professional, with 14 of those wins by knockout. He is the only man to hold titles in both boxing and wrestling. In only his eighth professional bout, Spinks won the undisputed world heavyweight championship when he beat Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978, in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. However, he was stripped of the WBC title for fighting Ali in an unapproved rematch seven months later, which he lost by a 15-round unanimous decision. Besides being heavyweight champion and his characteristic gap-toothed grin (due to losing two and later all four of his front teeth), Spinks gained notoriety for the disaster which befell his career following the loss to Ali.
Prior to turning professional, Spinks won a bronze medal at the inaugural 1974 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Havana. Two years later, he capped off his amateur career by winning a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, alongside his brother Michael Spinks, who won the gold at middleweight. Leon defeated Cuban great Sixto Soria in an entertaining slugfest where Spinks was rocked several times by the much more polished fighter but landed a crushing overhand right that put Soria face down on the canvas. His Olympic teammates included Sugar Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr. Spinks also served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1973 to 1976.
Spinks debuted professionally on January 15, 1977 in Las Vegas, 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.
First Ali match
Now a lower ranked contender, he made history on February 15, 1978, by beating Muhammad Ali on a 15-round split decision in Las Vegas. Spinks won the world heavyweight title in his eighth professional fight, the shortest time in history. The aging Ali had expected an easy fight, but he was out-boxed by Spinks, who did not tire throughout the bout. It was one of the few occasions when Ali left the ring with a bruised and puffy face.
Spinks' victory over Ali was the peak of his career. He was the only man to take a title from Muhammad Ali in the ring, as Ali's other losses were non-title contests or bouts where Ali was the challenger. Spinks' gap-toothed grin was featured on the cover of the February 19, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated.
However, Spinks was stripped of his world title by the WBC for refusing to defend it against Ken Norton, instead agreeing to a return bout against Ali to defend his WBA crown. The title, stripped from Spinks, was then awarded to Norton. Spinks was the last undisputed heavyweight champion until Mike Tyson.
The Ali rematch
His second match with Ali, at the Louisiana Superdome on September 15, 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in-shape Ali—with better sharper tactics—rarely lost control, winning back his title by a unanimous fifteen-round decision. Ali regained the title, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion.
Spinks's next fight, his only one in 1979, was at Monte Carlo, where he was knocked out in the first round by future WBA world heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee. In the following fight, Spinks defeated former world title challenger and European title holder Alfredo Evangelista by a knockout in round 5. He fought to a draw in with Eddie López, and beat the WBC's top-ranked challenger, Bernardo Mercado, by a knockout in round nine.
The Holmes title fight
His strong performance against Mercado earned Spinks a title match against Larry Holmes. In Spinks' only fight in 1981, and what would be his last chance opportunity at the heavyweight title, he had a clear loss by a TKO in the third round at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on June 12.
Changes weight division
It was Spinks' last heavyweight bout for years, as he began boxing in the cruiserweight division. He beat contender Ivy Brown by a decision in ten rounds, and a gained a decision against former and future title challenger Jesse Burnett in twelve rounds.
When his brother Michael Spinks defeated Larry Holmes in a controversial upset for the IBF heavyweight championship in 1985, they became the first brothers to have held world heavyweight championships. They kept the distinction until the Klitschko brothers also achieved it a decade later.
In the 1980s Leon Spinks competed in several boxer vs. wrestler matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling, including losing by submission to Antonio Inoki. In 1986 Spinks earned his last championship opportunity, fighting Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA cruiserweight championship. Qawi had been defeated by Michael Spinks three years earlier for his WBC light heavyweight championship. However, Leon Spinks lost by TKO in the sixth round. During the fight, Qawi taunted Spinks as he beat him mercilessly in a corner.
Spinks boxed for another eight years with mixed results. In 1994 he lost a bout by KO to John Carlo, the first time a former heavyweight champion had lost to a boxer making his pro debut (promoter Charles Farrell later admitted to falsifying Carlo's record in order to get the fight sanctioned by the District of Columbia). Spinks retired at age 42, after losing an 8 round decision to Fred Houpe in 1995, who was coming off a seventeen-year hiatus.
Professional boxing record
|26 Wins (14 knockouts, 11 decisions, 1 disqualification), 17 Losses (9 knockouts, 8 decisions), 3 Draws|
|Loss||Fred Houpe||Decision (unanimous)||8||December 4, 1995||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Win||Ray Kipping||Decision (unanimous)||8||June 19, 1995||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Loss||John Carlo||KO||1||October 22, 1994||Washington, D.C.|
|Loss||Shane Sutcliffe||Decision||8||October 1, 1994||Nanaimo, British Columbia|
|Win||Eddie Curry||Disqualification||9 (10)||June 22, 1994||Raleigh, North Carolina||Unsanctioned show.|
|Loss||James Wilder||Decision||10||February 27, 1993||Davenport, Iowa|
|Win||Kevin Poindexter||KO||1 (10)||December 11, 1992||Countryside, Illinois|
|Loss||Kevin Porter||Decision||10||September 26, 1992||Lansing, Michigan|
|Win||Jack Jackson||KO||3 (10)||July 24, 1992||Countryside, Illinois|
|Win||Kenneth Bentley||Decision||10||June 17, 1992||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Win||Rick Myers||Decision||10||March 20, 1992||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Win||Andre Crowder||Decision (split)||10||February 28, 1992||Countryside, Illinois|
|Win||Lupe Guerra||KO||3 (10)||November 15, 1991||Gary, Indiana|
|Loss||Tony Morrison||TKO||1 (10)||May 30, 1988||Trumbull, Connecticut|
|Loss||Randall Cobb||Decision (majority)||10||March 18, 1988||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Loss||Ladislao Mijangos||Decision (split)||10||December 20, 1987||San Antonio, Texas|
|Loss||Terry Mims||Decision (split)||10||October 20, 1987||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Draw||Jim Ashard||Draw (points)||10||August 29, 1987||Eugene, Oregon|
|Loss||Angelo Musone||KO||7 (10)||May 22, 1987||Jesi, Italy|
|Win||Jeff Jordan||Decision (split)||12||April 28, 1987||Nagoya, Japan||Won WBC Continental Americas
Heavyweight title, which was later
|Loss||Jose Ribalta||TKO||1 (10), 2:10||January 17, 1987||Coconut Grove, Florida|
|Loss||Rocky Sekorski||TKO||6 (10)||August 2, 1986||Detroit Lks., Minnesota|
|TKO||6 (15), 2:56||March 22, 1986||Reno, Nevada||Match was for the WBA Cruiserweight
|Win||Kip Kane||TKO||8 (12), 1:37||December 13, 1985||New York City, New York||Won WBC Continental Americas
Heavyweight title, which was later
|Win||Tom Franco Thomas||Decision||10||June 29, 1985||Santa Rosa, California|
|Win||Tom Fischer||Decision||10||May 9, 1985||Detroit, Michigan|
|Win||Rick Kellar||TKO||2 (10)||April 9, 1985||Honolulu, Hawaii|
|Win||Lupe Guerra||TKO||4 (10), 0:43||February 21, 1985||Detroit, Michigan|
|Loss||Carlos De León||Decision (unanimous)||6 (10)||March 6, 1983||Atlantic City, New Jersey||Spinks later vacated the NABF
|Win||Jesse Burnett||Decision (unanimous)||12||October 31, 1982||McAfee, New Jersey||Won vacant NABF Cruiserweight title.|
|Win||Ivy Brown||Decision||10||February 24, 1982||Atlantic City, New Jersey|
|Loss||Larry Holmes||TKO||3 (15)||June 12, 1981||Detroit, Michigan||Fight was for the WBC Heavyweight
|Win||Bernardo Mercado||TKO||9 (12)||October 2, 1980||Las Vegas, Nevada||WBC Heavyweight title eliminator.|
|Win||Kevin Isaac||TKO||8 (10), 0:52||May 3, 1980||Redwood City, California|
|Draw||Eddie López||Draw (points)||10||March 8, 1980||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Win||Alfredo Evangelista||KO||5 (10), 2:43||January 12, 1980||Atlantic City, New Jersey|
|Loss||Gerrie Coetzee||TKO||1 (12), 2:03||June 24, 1979||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|Loss||Muhammad Ali||Decision (unanimous)||15||September 15, 1978||New Orleans, Louisiana||Lost The Ring/WBA Heavyweight titles.|
|On March 18, 1978, Spinks was stripped of the WBC Heavyweight title for refusal to fight Ken Norton, the WBC's number-one contender, in favor of a rematch with Ali|
|Win||Muhammad Ali||Decision (split)||15||February 15, 1978||Las Vegas, Nevada||Won The Ring/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.|
|Win||Alfio Righetti||Decision (unanimous)||10||November 18, 1977||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Draw||Scott LeDoux||Draw (points)||10||October 22, 1977||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Win||Bruce Scott||KO||3 (8)||June 1, 1977||Montreal, Quebec|
|Win||Pedro Agosto||KO||1 (8), 1:55||May 7, 1977||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Win||Jerry McIntyre||KO||1 (6), 0:35||March 20, 1977||Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||Peter Freeman||KO||1||March 5, 1977||Liverpool, England|
|Win||Bob Smith||TKO||5 (6), 0:20||January 15, 1977||Las Vegas, Nevada|
- 1974, 1975, and 1976 National AAU light heavyweight champion
- Defeated future champion Michael Dokes for first AAU title in 1974
- Defeated Abellatif Fatihi (Morocco) KO 1
- Defeated Anatoly Klimanov (Soviet Union) 5-0
- Defeated Ottomar Sachse (East Germany) 5-0
- Defeated Janusz Gortat (Poland) 5-0
- Defeated Sixto Soria (Cuba) RSC 3
During the 1990s, Spinks worked for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, winning its world title in 1992. In the late 1990s, Spinks was a headliner on year-round, touring autograph shows. Spinks was later brought into Extreme Championship Wrestling by promoter Paul Heyman as part of the buildup of Taz as a legitimate fighter, but according to Mick Foley nothing was ever made of the appearance, as Spinks' lone appearance at an ECW show resulted in him vomiting in a drunken stupor.
In 2009 Spinks was featured as part of the 2009 documentary Facing Ali, in which notable former opponents of Ali speak about how fighting Ali changed their lives.
"I love helping the kids," he says. He loves being a hero to them and he also still loves working a room.
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated, March 1993 issue, p.27
- "Riches to rags" The Boston Globe, December 21, 2005
- "The Fix Is In". Snap Judgment. NPR. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
- "Leon Spinks' career boxing record". BoxRec. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
- Steve Sipple, "Ex-champ Leon Spinks cleans up in Columbus". Lincoln Journal Star, April 4, 2005.
- Powell, Jeff (June 2, 2010). "Leon Spinks today". The Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Florio, John; Shapiro, Ouisie (2013). One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title. Lyons Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-7627-8300-7.
|Awards and achievements|
|WBA Heavyweight Champion
February 15, 1978 - September 15, 1978
|WBC Heavyweight Champion
February 15, 1978 - March 18, 1978
Jimmy Young W12 George Foreman
(March 17, 1977)
|Ring Magazine Fight of the Year
1978 - W15 Muhammad Ali (February 15)
Danny Lopez KO15 Mike Ayala
(June 17, 1979)
Jorge Lujan KO10 Alfonso Zamora
(November 19, 1977)
|Ring Magazine Upset of the Year
1978 - W15 Muhammad Ali (February 15)
Vito Antuofermo D15 Marvin Hagler
(November 30, 1979)
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
|BWAA Fighter of the Year
shared award with Sugar Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph,
Howard Davis, Jr. and Michael Spinks