LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – Former Las Vegas-based heavyweight champion Leon Spinks Jr. died Friday, according to his press coverage. He was 67 years old.
Spinks lost a five-year battle against multiple cancers with his wife, Brenda Glur Spinks by his side, on Friday night.
“Leon struggled with numerous illnesses resiliently and never lost his striking smile. He showed genuine Spinks determination and never threw in the towel. Leon will be remembered as a beloved husband, father and brother,” read the statement from The Firm.
Spinks made history in Las Vegas in 1978 when he defeated Muhammad Ali to become world heavyweight champion. In total, he fought professionally 72 times and won 46 of them.
Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame founder Rich Marotta said without question his fight against Ali was an incredible win.
“He was a 10-1 underdog – it was one of the biggest surprises in boxing history and he won a 15-round decision on the biggest. And he will also be remembered as part of the 1976 Olympics boxing team – arguably the largest boxing team the United States has ever used in the Montreal Olympics, and he won a gold medal, as did his brother Michael. “Said Marotta.
Spinks was born on July 11, 1953 in St. Louis. He served in the Marines where he found a passion for boxing.
In 2011, he married his longtime girlfriend in a small ceremony in Las Vegas. In the same year he moved to Las Vegas. His boxing success led to an induction into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.
Long-time friend and family representative, Tyler Feldman, described Spinks as positive and a wonderful person.
“Even physically, he definitely only had physical challenges with his body over the years, but just kept going. You know, he had a fighter that was even bigger than a boxer in the ring, he was a tougher fighter outside of the ring, especially with his health, ”said Feldman.
Feldman said he was a competitor in and out of the ring.
“He really was an example of the attitude never to give up. Every time someone said they couldn’t do something, they did it. And it’s very rare that you find that, ”Feldman said.
Both Feldman and Marotta said Spinks always gave fans time.
“The year he was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, Leon actually sat with his brother Michael, who was also inducted that same year, and they stood for hours taking pictures with fans, so loved he really did it – he loved being out there the fans, “said Marotta.
“Las Vegas, he was everywhere, every kind of charitable event, every kind of, anything that could be given back to children. He’s so happy, ”said Feldman.
His wife Brenda Glur Spinks released a statement on Leon’s death.
“His last fight was fought with the same skill, grace and strength that had led him through so many lifelong challenges,” the statement read.
This is a developing story. Check back to find out more.
Copyright 2021 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.