Michael Spinks (born July 13, 1956), a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is a former boxer whose brother, Leon Spinks, beat Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight championship. His nickname, Jinx, rhymed with his last name, and his right hand also earned a nickname: The Spinks Jinx.
Spinks then turned professional with a win over Eddie Benson, knocked out in one on April 17 of 1977 in Las Vegas. Spinks began with that, a 31 fight winning streak that would almost extend to the end of his career. After four more wins, Spinks finished '77 with the first fight that began a gradual ascent in opposition quality: an eight round decision over Gary Summerhays, a popular young boxer of the time.
In 1978, Spinks won two fights, including an eight round decision over former world Middleweight title challenger Tom Bethea, in the same undercard where his brother Leon dethroned Ali as world Heavyweight champion in Las Vegas.
1979 saw Spinks get less than three minutes of boxing action inside a ring, with his only fight ending in a first round knockout of Marc Hans, but in 1980, Spinks took his ascent towards the top to another level, when he beat future world Super Middleweight champion Murray Sutherland, former world Light Heavyweight champion John Conteh and fringe contenders Ramon Ronquillo and Alvaro Yaqui Lopez (who challenged for a world title no less than four times). Of his five wins that year, 3 came by knockout, Sutherland and Johnny Wilburn being the only ones who lasted the distance.
By 1981, Spinks was already a top ranked contender, and after beating former and future world Light Heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson by a knockout in four rounds, the WBA made Spinks their number one challenger, and so, on July 18 of that year, he met WBA's world Light Heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, once again in Las Vegas. Spinks dropped Mustafa Muhammad in round 12, and went on to become world Light Heavyweight champion with a 15 round decision win. He defended the title once in '81, beating Vonzell Johnson by a knockout in seven.
After four successful defenses in 1982, including a knockout win in eight in a rematch with Sutherland, Spinks had become a superstar, if at least in the boxing world. He began appearing on the covers of all boxing magazines, such as KO Magazine and Ring Magazine, and boxing fans started clamoring for a unification fight with WBC world champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Tragedy struck his life, however, when in January of 1983, his girlfriend died in a car crash, leaving Spinks the single parent of his three year old daughter.
Meanwhile, the fight all the fans wanted was being asked for by boxing critics and magazine editors too. And finally, on March 18, two months after his girlfriend's death, Spinks and Qawi met in a boxing ring. The fight was broadcast by HBO Boxing, and, according to the book The Ring: Boxing In The 20th Century, Spinks had a very tough moment to overcome before it even started: His daughter asked him, while he was in his dressing room, if her mother would come to watch the fight. Spinks almost broke in tears, but soon had to recover and get into the ring, where he and Qawi fought to unify the crown. Spinks was floored in round eight, but he got up and won a 15 round majority decision to become the undisputed world Light Heavyweight champion. He defended the title one more time before the end of the year, against Oscar Rivadeneira in Alaska, whom he beat by a ten round knockout.
Spinks fought only once in 1984, retaining his crown with a 12 round majority decision over Eddie Davis. He and Qawi were only a couple of weeks away from fighting a rematch in September of that year, but that fight got called off when Qawi got injured during training.
In 1985, Spinks beat David Sears and Jim McDonald, both by knockout, in title defenses, before challenging Larry Holmes for the world's Heavyweight championship in a fight recognized by the IBF. Holmes was trying to tie Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0 as the Heavyweight champion with the most fights undefeated, but it was Spinks who made double history that night, winning a 15 round split decision and becoming the first world Light Heavyweight champion ever to win the world Heavyweight title after being Light Heavyweight champion. With this, Michael and Leon had also become the first pair of brothers ever to be world Heavyweight champions. The fight was, once again, broadcast by HBO. When Michael became a world Heavyweight champion, he became a household name, being featured in Budweiser commercials and making cameo appearances in different Hollywood movies.
In 1986, Spinks and Holmes went to an immediate rematch, and had the same result, Spinks winning by a 15 round split decision. After that, he retained the world Heavyweight championship once again, by a knockout in four against Stefan Tangstad. In 1987 he was stripped of the crown by the IBF for refusing to fight their number 1 challenger, Tony Tucker, and accepting a higher offer to fight Gerry Cooney in a non title bout instead. Spinks knocked out Cooney in five rounds, and, after Mike Tyson had unified the Heavyweight belts (including Spinks' IBF belt, which Tyson took away with a twelve round decision over Tucker, who had become world champion when he beat James Buster Douglas), fans started clamoring for a superfight between them.
And so, in 1988, Superfight 88, Tyson Vs. Spinks, came. Tyson inflicted the first and only defeat on Spinks' record by knocking Spinks out in the first round.
After that fight, Spinks retired and never came back to boxing as a boxer. He is now a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, and manages young boxers along with his former manager, Butch Lewis.
Spinks had a record of 31 wins, 1 loss and 21 wins by knockout as a professional.