Inducted on November 14, 2002

Leon Spinks won an Olympic gold medal in 1976. Turned professional immediately afterward. After only seven fights he found himself a heavyweight contender in 1978 and in the ring with “The Greatest” a tough assignment for a newcomer. In one of the greatest upsets in boxing history Spinks won a 15 round decision to become Champion of the World. Later that same year he defended his title against the former champ. This time Spinks had failed to prepare, ignored his training and lost the title he had won only months earlier. Making Ali the first Heavyweight in history to regain the title an unprecedented three times.

In 1983, Leon’s brother Michael won the Heavyweight Title by beating Larry Holmes and they are the FIRST brothers in boxing history to win the Heavyweight Title.

Trainers: Sam Solomon, George Benton, Emanuel Steward
Managers: Mitt Barnes, Butch Lewis
Leon Spinks Gallery

Amateur Career

Spinks vs. Sixto Soria at the 1976 Olympics
  • Amateur Record: 178-7 with 133 knockouts
  • 1974 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1974 Bronze Medalist (178 lbs) at the World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Results:
    • Jacob Odonga (Uganda) KO 1
    • Nasley Thompson (Jamaica)/Mohamed Saoud (Morocco) WO
    • Oleg Karatayev (Soviet Union) RCS by 3
  • 1975 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1975 Silver Medalist (178 lbs) at the Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico.
  • 1976 National AAU Champion (178 lbs)
  • 1976 Gold Medalist (178 lbs) at the Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Results:

Professional Career

Spinks vs. Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978
  • Spinks defeated the legendary Muhammad Ali by a fifteen-round split decision to win the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship on February 15, 1978. Spinks, with a record of 6-0-1 and just 31 rounds as a professional boxer, was a 10-1 underdog. The fight was named Upset of the Year and Fight of the Year by The Ring. Spinks also received The Ring Progress of the Year Award.
  • On March 18, 1978, the WBC stripped Spinks of their title for choosing to give Ali a rematch instead of defending the title against Ken Norton, the WBC #1 contender. Spinks remained the WBA Heavyweight Champion.
  • Ali defeated Spinks by a fifteen-round unanimous decision to regain the WBA Heavyweight Championship on September 15, 1978.
  • In his first fight since losing to Ali, Spinks was knocked out in the first round by Gerrie Coetzee on June 24, 1979.
  • Spinks knocked out Bernardo Mercado, the WBC #1 contender, in nine rounds on October 2, 1980.
  • In an attempt to regain the World Heavyweight Championship, Spinks was knocked out in three rounds by WBC Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes on June 12, 1981.
  • After losing to Holmes, Spinks moved down to the cruiserweight division. On October 31, 1982, he won the vacant NABF Cruiserweight Championship with a controversial twelve-round unanimous decision against Jesse Burnett.
  • On March 22, 1986, Spinks challenged WBA Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi and was knocked out in six rounds.
  • Spinks, at age 48, made his last known appearance in a boxing ring on August 29, 2001, boxing a four-round exhibition with Rick Wilson for charity in Chicago.

Regional Titles

  • NABF Cruiserweight Championship (1982)
  • WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight Championship (1985)


Life After Boxing

Spinks worked as a greeter at Mike Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago after retiring in 1988. He returned to the ring in 1991 and retired for good in 1995. Spinks made in excess of $5 million during career but ended up broke. He was homeless for a while and lived in shelters. In recent years, Spinks, who now suffers from dementia pugilistica, has lived in Columbus, Nebraska, working as a weekend custodian at a YMCA, sometimes unloading trucks at McDonald’s, and volunteering to help the homeless. [1]

Boxing Record: click