Spinks vs Ali February 15, 1978

Spinks vs Ali February 15, 1978

(KFVS) - One of the biggest upsets in boxing history happened on this date 39 years ago.

In Las Vegas on February 15, 1978,  St. Louis native Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali in a 15 round heavyweight title fight.

In only his 8th professional fight, Spinks entered the bout with Ali as a huge underdog. Spinks' victory over Ali is historic.  He was the only man to take the title from Ali in the ring. All of Ali's other losses were in non-title contests or bouts where Ali was the challenger.

The upset victory put Spinks on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But his reign as champ was short lived.

He quickly signed on for a rematch in September and in New Orleans, Ali took the title back from Spinks in a unanimous decision. Ali retired after the bout so a third fight between the two never took place. Ali would come out of retirement a few years later to face Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, but old man time had caught up with Ali. He lost both fights.

Spinks fell on hard times.  At one point he was employed as a window washer in St. Louis.

His son, Cory Spinks, pursued a career in boxing.  He has held both championship belts as a welterweight and a junior middleweight.

Leon Spinks now lives in Nebraska and keeps a low profile.

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