Boxing legend Leon Spinks, who famously defeated Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title in 1978, died Friday, after a five year battle with cancer. He was 67-years-old.
Isaac Brekken / Getty Images
Spinks was 24 when he went toe-to-toe with Ali and walked away victorious. Seven months later, a rematch was held and Spinks lost the second fight. He retired at 42 after losing to Fred Houpe in 1995. His final boxing record was 26-17-3.
Later in life, Spinks dealt with financial issues in addition to medical problems.
“I was a poor young guy,” he told the New York Daily News in 1997. “I never had nothing. All of a sudden I had something. I tried to do too much. I was crazy. I didn’t care about nothing. You think it’s never going to end.”
Many fans on Twitter published condolences following the announcement of his passing.
Fox Sports 1 commentator Skip Bayless recalled covering one of his fights, earlier in his reporting career: “RIP Leon Spinks. I spent a crazy week w/ him (Hilton Head, NYC, Atlanta) after he upset Ali in Vegas, before their rematch (dominated by Ali) in New Orleans. He never could quite live up to expectations that skyrocketed between those fights. But sure was fun while it lasted.”