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Leon Spinks, boxing's former heavyweight champion, dead at 67

· 02/06/2021 20:06
Leon Spinks, boxing's former heavyweight champion, dead at 67

- Boxer Leon Spinks, who won an Olympic gold medal and then beat Muhammad Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, has died after a long battle with cancer, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Spinks, 67, passed away on Friday with only a few close friends and family present due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile,' The Firm PR said in a statement sent to Reuters. "Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel."

Spinks, recognizable by his gap-toothed grin, rose to fame winning the light-heavyweight gold medal for the United States at the 1976 Montreal Olympics but shocked the boxing world just two years later when in only his eighth professional bout defeated Ali in a split decision.

That would be the highlight of Spinks' career as Ali would get his revenge in the rematch seven months later in New Orleans.

Spinks would fight for a heavyweight crown only on one other occasion losing to Larry Holmes in 1981.

He would retire at the age of 42 with an unremarkable record of 26-17-3.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by David Gregorio)

((steve.keating@thomsonreuters.com; +1 647-624-4094; Reuters Messaging: steve.keating.reuters.com@reuters.net))