What was Leon Spinks’s Net Worth?
Leon Spinks was an American professional boxer who had a net worth of $400 thousand at the time of his death. During his career Leon earned at least $5 million, which is worth significantly more after adjusting for inflation. Unfortunately his finances were not properly managed and he experienced financial problems later in life. At one point he was forced to take a job as a janitor at a YMCA in Nebraska.
Leon Spinks competed from 1977 to 1995. Famously, he won the undisputed heavyweight championship in 1978 in a massive upset over boxing legend Muhammad Ali. He was one of Ali’s only five professional losses. Leon was the only person to ever defeat Ali in a title bout. Before that, Spinks won multiple titles and medals as an amateur boxer in the light heavyweight division, and later had a brief career as a professional wrestler. Prior to turning pro, he also won a Bronze medal at the 1974 World Amateur Championships in Havana, and a Gold Medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
Leon Spinks was born on July 11, 1953 in St. Louis, Missouri. He has a younger brother named Michael who also became a professional boxer.
Amateur Boxing Career
As an amateur boxer, Spinks won three consecutive national AAU light heavyweight championships from 1974 to 1976. During that same span of time, he represented the United States in international tournaments. In 1974, Spinks won a bronze medal at the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships, and in 1975 won a silver at the Pan American Games. He went on to claim a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the same Olympics at which his brother Michael won gold in the middleweight division. Spinks finished his amateur career with a 178-7 record.
Professional Boxing Career
Spinks made his professional boxing debut in early 1977 in Las Vegas, defeating Bob Smith via knockout. In his next fight, in England, he beat Peter Freeman by knockout in the first round. Spinks went on to defeat Jerry McIntyre, Pedro Agosto, and Bruce Scott before drawing with Scott LeDoux in October of 1977. In his final fight of the year, he beat Alfio Righetti by unanimous decision. Spinks achieved a whole new level of fame in February of 1978 when he upset the legendary Muhammad Ali in a split-decision victory after 15 rounds. He consequently won the WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles, making him the first and only man to take a title from Ali in the ring.
However, Spinks’s triumph was short-lived. After being stripped of his WBC title for refusing to defend it against Ken Norton, he had a rematch against Ali that saw him lose his WBA title as well. Spinks fought his next match in 1979, losing to Gerrie Coetzee in the first round. He bounced back in early 1980 with a knockout victory over Alfredo Evangelista. That was followed by a draw with Eddie López in March. Spinks won his final two fights of the year, against Kevin Isaac and Bernardo Mercado; both were TKO victories.
In his only fight in 1981, Spinks lost to Larry Holmes via TKO. He fared better the next year in the cruiserweight division, beating Ivy Brown and winning the vacant NABF cruiserweight title by beating Jesse Burnett. Spinks had only one fight in 1983, a loss to Carlos de León. Returning to the ring in 1985, he had an impressive winning streak by defeating Lupe Guerra, Rick Kellar, Tom Fischer, Tom Franco Thomas, and Kip Kane. Spinks earned his final championship opportunity in 1986 when he went up against Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA cruiserweight title; ultimately, he lost via TKO. Over the remainder of his professional boxing career, which lasted through 1995, Spinks had highly mixed results. After losing most of his matches from 1986 to 1988, he had a solid run in the early 1990s with wins over Lupe Guerra, Rick Myers, and Jack Jackson, among others. However, his performance declined again during the final two years of his career, with the lowlight being a loss to John Carlo in his professional debut. After losing to Fred Houpe in late 1995, Spinks retired.
Professional Wrestling Career
Spinks joined New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1986 in an MMA fight against Japanese legend Antonio Inoki. He ended up losing to Inoki by submission. Spinks’s next pro wrestling appearance was for the United States Wrestling Association in 1990, when he lost to Jerry Lawler. The year after that, he made his debut for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in Japan, teaming with fellow boxer Rufus Blackborn. In 1992, Spinks won the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship by defeating Tarzan Goto. He eventually retired from wrestling the following year.
Personal Life and Death
With his wife Brenda, Spinks had two sons, Cory and Leon. Cory competed as a professional boxer from 1997 to 2013, and held multiple world championships in both the welterweight and light middleweight classes. Leon had been an aspiring light heavyweight boxer before he was shot to death in 1990.
In 2012, Spinks was diagnosed with brain shrinkage due to all the punches he took during his career. Later, in 2019, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Spinks passed away in Henderson, Nevada on February 5, 2021.