Actors and singers are not the only people we consider celebrities. Sometimes athletes lead a much more interesting and media-present life, than any other celebrity.

In today’s text we are going to talk about Leon Spinks, and American boxer who was at the top of his career during the eighties, and managed to make incredible success during his prime years.

Early Years

Leon Spinks was born on July 11th 1953 in St. Louis Missouri. He grew up in a tough environment. He and his brother were born in July. Leon, on July 11, 1953; Michael, July 13, 1956, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

They grew up in the poorest and most forgotten part of the city, in the northern part, which was then completely demolished. His childhood, along with that of his six brothers and a sister, developed between gangsters, juvenile delinquency and murders.

Leon experienced violence in his own flesh, both school and street. And it was those factors that led him to the Capri gym, where he became a boxer to defend himself against so many attacks. Then he was followed by his younger brother, Michael, who must have become the man of the house when the father left them.

The mother, Kay, had to fight hard to support her children; Leon was the irresponsible one of the family and it was for that reason that Michael had to take charge of the responsibilities. In fact, he managed for him and his brothers some occasional jobs to distribute newspapers, for example.

Boxing also gave them a chance to earn some dollars for Leon and Michael, since their coach Jim Merrill, got those fights. Of course, in many cases, they paid only if they won, and this contributed to the two brothers became tenacious fighters.

Career Path

Leon Spinks began as a boxer in the corps of marines and in the light heavyweight category, in which he stood out for his mobility inside the ring. His first success as an amateur was the bronze medal of the Havana World Championships in 1974; One year later he won the title of United States champion.

In 1976 he lost the final of the Pan American Games, but that same summer he went to the Olympics in Montreal, where he won the Cuban heavyweight Sixto Soria in the final. In 1977 he became a professional heavyweight boxer. After playing only seven fights in the new category, he faced Muhammad Ali for the title of the World Boxing Association (WBA).

The fight took place in Las Vegas on February 15, 1978, and Spinks won the points after fifteen closely matched rounds, which ultimately made him world champion and the great figure of the moment, given the celebrity that the Muslim boxer enjoyed.

However, just retained the belt a few months, since on September 15 of that same year lost the rematch against Muhammad Ali in a match held in New Orleans, and was also dispossessed of the world title, WBC version, for refusing to fight against Ken Norton.

In 1981 he returned to try to recover the belt of the heavyweights, but showed to be in very low form to lose in three assaults against Larry Holmes. In 1986 he was easily defeated again by Dwight Qawi in the sixth round. Father of two children who would follow his steps, after his retirement he became a coach in a gym in San Luis.

For the North American boxing, the Olympic Games of Montreal, in 1976, have been almost in the legend. Ray Sugar Leonard, Leo Randolph, Howard Davis Junior, Michael Spinks and Leon Spinks captured gold medals. And then all of them, except Davis, were world champions at a professional level. It was the best American Olympic boxing team in history.

When the Montreal games arrived, Leon had won the bronze medal in the first Amateur Boxing World Championship that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1974, in the medium-heavy category. With his meter 85 centimeters (6 feet and an inch), he was well proportioned for the category of 175 pounds, in which they came to reign worldwide Archie Moore or Bob Foster.

Michael, on the other hand, was almost the same height as his older brother: one meter 88 (6 feet 2 inches), but he worked in the medium category, 160 pounds, since his physique was much more stylized. He was Gold Gloves champion in Denver, Colorado, 1974.

A year later, in Shreveport, Louisiana, he won the silver medal in the North American championship. His road to Montreal was paved with two other tournaments won: the Golden Gloves Championship of 76 in Miami, plus the Olympic qualifying tournament, in the medium category.

Michael had to overcome four rivals. Jean-Marie Emebe, from France, did not show up. The Polish Ryszard Pasiewicz beat him by points; the Romanian Alex Nastac did not appear either and in the final, before the Russian Rufat Riskiyev, was imposed by KOT in the third round.

Despite the brilliance of Ray Leonard and the quality of Howard Davis Junior (distinguished as the best fighter of the Montreal Games), it was the Spinks that gave the Olympic boxing team the most color.

It is that among them there was not only a very special chemistry, but that “private competition” about who was going to take the gold medal was made public very soon. The history of the family was learned. They grew up fighting among themselves, and only the authority of the mother or her only sister put order between them.

When Leon reached the final against the Cuban Sixto Soria, there were very few who believed in him. The Cuban was the great favorite for the experts. However, Leon was totally upset by the fortune of his younger brother, Michael, who was then 20 years old.

Standing at the back of the stadium, Leon followed Michael’s fight by praying to God for that victory, “I was all the time asking the Lord to help my brother.” Michael had lost a year earlier with the Russian Riskiev, but in this On occasion things were totally different.

The Russian was world champion and was 27 years old, and was virtually overwhelmed by the American, who made him tremble in the first round, had him on the ground in the second until in the third, practically the Russian decided to leave, as he did not I wanted more punishment, accusing a low blow that nobody saw, because it did not exist. “I did not want to fight anymore, that’s the story, he did not have courage,” said Michael.

Of course the temperature still rose much more when Leon’s turn came. It was, for journalists, the most explosive fight of the finals. Leo not only knocked down his rival twice – and one of them facing the canvas -, but also the match was stopped by the referee in the third round, 45 seconds before the official time achieved by his brother Michael.

Both remained as major players, since two brothers had never been gold medals in the same games. “The Spinks have granite jaws. But the Spinks had more surprises still reserved. Already in the professional field, Leon was champion of the world, with just 8 fights and 24 years, after winning nothing more and nothing less than Muhammad Ali, on February 15, 1978.

His gigantic smile without teeth -product of a brutal head-butt he suffered in training during his time with the Marines-appeared on everyone’s covers, because no one could believe that a beginner could have beaten Ali.

The rematch occurred on September 15 of the same year in the Superdome of New Orleans and Ali, who at that time was 36, took revenge by defeating Leon -who had already turned 25- for the WBA version, by points in 15 rounds. His career had a long series of ups and downs -with more descents than promotions-, he was involved in drug consumption and finally retired at 42 years old. His son, Cory Spinks, was world champion of the IBF junior middleweight division.

Michael’s story after the Olympic Games also suffered curious alternatives. He returned with his gold medal to Saint Louis to continue washing toilets and polishing floors. While his brother became a star soon after, thanks to his victory over Muhammad Ali, Michael resigned himself to a low profile, taking care of his mother and trying to help his brother.

However, the promoter Butch Lewis, who took care of his brother and encouraged him not to lower his arms, crossed his path. Not only did he pay attention to him, but he started a career that made him become world champion of the medium-heavy.

And, after ten defenses and as if that were not enough, he became the first heavyweight world champion to achieve the full weight crown, when he beat Larry Holmes for the IBF version on September 21, 1985. The ruling was very controversial and went to a rematch, on April 19 of the following year, and Michael, who was called Jinx – he mentioned his right cross as the “Spinks Jikns” – won again by points.

He waged a million-dollar fight against Gerry Cooney, considered at that time “The Great White Hope” and beat him by knockout. His reign ended in just 91 seconds when he faced Mike Tyson, who knocked him out at the time in a fight in Atlantic City on June 27, 1988. He received a bag of 13 million 500 thousand dollars. He never returned to a ring again. Leon lived life his way, always crazy, and did not want to obey the instructions of Butch Lewis, the same promoter who handled with great success his younger brother.

Leon’s net worth is currently estimated at around 20 thousand dollars. Even though he has lived a lavish lifestyle, he is now living in Las Vegas, and staying low. He says he has enough money for himself and that he is happy living the way he is living right now.

Personal life

Leon’s health deteriorated in recent years. In 2012, the doctors said that he has a shrinkage in his brain, and the reason is many punches he got to his head during professional boxing years.

His son, Cory Spinks held the welterweight title and was a champion two times, while his other son Leon Calvin was shot death in 1990. He was also an aspiring boxer.

Quick summary

Full name: Leon Spinks

Date of birth: July 11th 1953

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

Age: 66

Profession: Professional boxer

Height: 1.85 m

Weight: 90 kg

Net Worth: 20$ thousand