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Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, who defeated Muhammad Ali, passes away at 67

Leon Spinks, Muhammad Ali

The boxing world lost a legend on Friday night, with the passing of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. Spinks, who shocked the world in 1978 by defeating a heavily-favored Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title, passed away at the age of 67.

According to multiple reports, Spinks succumbed to his battle with multiple cancers over the past five years.

Spinks reportedly died with his wife, Brenda Glur Spinks by his side. A firm that represents Spinks and his family came out with this statement to address the former champion’s passing:

“Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel. Leon will be remembered as a beloved husband, father and brother,” the statement from The Firm PR said, via Kristen DeSilva of Fox5 Vegas.

Spinks was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June, and he underwent no less than three rounds of chemotherapy. Spinks also battled with dementia (h/t Josh Peter of USA TODAY).

Spinks first made waves in the world of sports when he won a gold medal for the United States in the 1976 Olympics. He worked his way up the ladder in the boxing scene, with his 1978 upset win with the great Muhammad Ali serving as the pinnacle of his career. The two faced off in a rematch not long after, with Ali winning via decision.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family friends of Leon Spinks. Rest in peace, legend.