Spinks, who was born in St. Louis, had a stellar amateur boxing career. He won the Olympic gold medal at the Light Heavyweight division during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, alongside brother Michael Spinks, who also won a gold medal on those games.
Spinks was, alongside Michael, Sugar Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr a member of what many consider the United States greatest national boxing team ever. While he was still an amateur, he also became a member of the United States Marine Corps.
He debuted professionally on January 15 of 1977 in Las Vegas, beating Bob Smith by a knockout in five. His next fight marked his debut abroad, as he went to The Beatles' hometown of Liverpool, England, to beat Peter Freeman by a knockout in the first round. A couple of fights later, he saw a slight improvement in opposition quality, when he fought Pedro Agosto of Puerto Rico and knocked him out in the first. Then, he drew with Scott LeDoux and beat Italian champion Alfio Riguetti by a decision.
After that, Spinks was ranked number one among the world's Heavyweight challengers, and he made history on February 15 of 1978, by beating Muhammad Ali by a decision in 15 in Las Vegas to become the fastest guy ever to win the world's Heavyweight crown when he became champion in only his sixth fight.
Spinks was known to be a party animal during his period as world Heavyweight champion, always enjoying the night life and in the company of multiple women. He even hired a young Mr. T to be one of his bodyguards during that time. He was stripped of his world title by the WBC for not wanting to face Ken Norton, but he was allowed to keep the WBA's world title. Norton then was given the WBC's world championship. During that time, he earned the nickname Neon Leon.
Spinks did not defend against Norton because he opted for a more lucrative rematch against Ali instead. The second time around, his non boxer like habits paid him back, and he lost his title to Ali, who became the first man to be world Heavyweight champion three times, by a decision in New Orleans. This was the point where his life started into a seemingly endless downward spiral.
He had a good rebound year in 1980, however, beating former world title challenger Alfredo Evangelista by a knockout in five, drawing in ten with Eddie The Animal Lopez and beating the WBC's number one ranked challenger Bernardo Mercado by a knockout in nine, on the night that Ali challenged Larry Holmes to try to become the first boxer to win the world Heavyweight title four times.
After that win, Spinks found himself challenging for the world's Heavyweight championship once again. In what was the only time he stepped into a ring in 1981, he faced Holmes in Detroit on June 12, getting knocked out in the third round.
In 1982, Spinks decided to go down in weight and compete in the Cruiserweights. He beat fringe contender Ivy Brown by a decision in ten, and former and future title challenger Jesse Burnett by decision in twelve.
His comeback was, once again, stopped on it's track in 1983 by the twice former and twice future world Cruiserweight champion Carlos De Leon, who knocked him out in six rounds in that year's only bout for Spinks.
That year also, he made history once again, this time around without having to lace a glove to do it: When his brother Michael beat Holmes on September 21, the Spinks became the first pair of brothers to be world Heavyweight champions.
In 1986, Spinks had another chance to become world champion, but he lost to the WBA's world cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi by a knockout in six in his second attempt at being a two time world champ. Then, he was defeated in six by knockout by Rocky Sekorski.
Spinks boxed for eight more years, having mixed results. He retired after losing by decision in eight to Fred Houpe in 1995, and he was homeless for a period of time. During the late 1990s, however, he was picked up by Tri Star Sports Promotions to become a headliner on their year-round, touring autographs shows. His life is basically now spent on the road, living at Marriott hotels, because Marriott is a sponsor of Tri-Star's shows. Despite the fact he is making a living out of signing his name, he still remains a willing free autograph signer, and his son, Cory Spinks, is now the IBF's world Welterweight champion.
Spinks had an overall record of 26 wins, 17 losses and 3 draws as a professional, with 14 knockout wins.\n