Former Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks Is Fighting Cancer

Victor Westerkamp
By Victor Westerkamp
March 19, 2020Sportsshare
Former Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks Is Fighting Cancer
Leon Spinks makes an appearence on stage before the Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury weigh-in at Los Angeles Convention Center on November 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California (Harry How/Getty Images)

Former heavyweight boxing world champion, 66-year-old Leon Spinks who has been diagnosed with prostate and bone cancer, is fighting off the biggest adversary he’s ever had.

In June last year, Spinks, who lives with his third wife, Brenda Spinks, in Henderson, Nevada, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After three rounds of chemotherapy, he received bad news that the cancer had also spread to his bones.

“He’s a champion, he’s going to keep fighting,” Brenda told reporters with USA Today about her husband, who is on heavy medication and goes about with a walker.

Spinks in 76
Picture taken on July 1976 at Montreal showing American Light heavyweight boxer Leon Spinks (R) on the ring at the end of his fight as part of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games (AFP/Getty Images)

In August, Spinks was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for nearly four month, the newspaper reported after blood was found in his urine. It turned out that he suffered from aspiration pneumonia, a staph infection, sepsis, inflammation of the colon, early signs of renal failure, and dementia. He was put on a ventilator and a feeding tube.

Spinks, one in only five boxers to ever defeat Muhammad Ali, puffs away on a joint a day, Brenda said. Smoking marijuana, which is legal in Nevada, helps him cope with the pain, and it makes him more docile and cooperative with the therapists, Brenda says.

Smile Design Gallery & Bernard Hopkins Present: The Art of Boxing
Brenda Spinks and Leon Spinks arrive at Smile Design Gallery’s “The Art of Boxing” event at Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino May 6, 2016, in Las Vegas (Isaac Brekken/Smile Design Gallery/Getty Images)

“I’m so against it, and now I’m going to dispensaries to buy it,’’ Brenda said. “It’s the only way I can get him to cooperate.”

And it is handy because he has a whole bunch of well willing caretakers about the house that want what’s the best for grumpy Spinks.

Brenda says she’s got help from her 29-year-old son, Michael, who has moved in with the couple, and from Spinks’ brother, Michael, the former heavyweight and light heavyweight boxing champion. Spinks’ sister, Karen, Brenda’s sister, Sherry, Spinks’ sons, Corey and Daryl, and grandson Leon Spinks III have also spent time to help out.

“I’m just so happy that he’s here, and we’re just going to keep working at making things better,” Brenda said. “We’re not going to give up. We’re not throwing in the towel.”

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