Michael Spinks (born July
13, 1956) is an American former boxer who was an Olympic gold medalist
and world champion in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.
Nicknamed Jinx, which spawned the nickname of his right hand: The
Spinks Jinx, he is the brother of former heavywight champion Leon
Spinks, and uncle of Cory Spinks, a former welterweight and light
After a successful amateur career, which
culminated in him winning a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics, Spinks
went undefeated in his first 31 professional fights, beating such
opponents as Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Marvin
Johnson and Eddie Davis en route to becoming undisputed world light
heavyweight champion. Following ten successful title defences, Spinks
moved up to heavyweight and as underdog beat the long-reigning IBF
heavyweight champion Larry Holmes; in doing so, Spinks became the
first reigning light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title.
In his final fight, Spinks was knocked out by Mike Tyson in 91 seconds,
the only defeat of his professional career.
Spinks has been
inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing
Hall of Fame. The International Boxing Research Organization and Boxrec
rate Spinks among the ten greatest light heavyweights of all time.
Spinks won the 1974 156 pound Golden Gloves Light middleweight
Championship by defeating Wilber Cameron in Denver, Colorado and then
took the Silver Medal in the National AAU 165 pound Championship Competition
in 1975, losing in three rounds to Tom Sullivan in Shreveport, Louisiana.
He rebounded to take the 1976 National Golden Gloves Middleweight
championship with a three round victory over Lamont Kirkland in Miami,
Florida, and that same year captured the United States Olympic Trials
Middleweight Championship by defeating Keith Broom in Cincinnati,
Ohio. He went on to defeat the Soviet Union's Rufat Riskiev to win
the Gold Medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Spinks finished
with a 93-7 amateur record with 35 knockouts.
With the Olympics
behind him, Spinks returned to work at a chemical factory in St. Louis,
"scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets," as one source tells it. He
had no big contracts awaiting him and, while Michael appeared to experts
to be more promising of the two brothers, Leon was at that time the
big shooting star, a television staple of ABC Sports, on his way to
a shot at heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Michael had their mother
to care for, and he was intent on helping Leon prepare for Ali. All
of this pushed Michael's career to the back burner. It was Butch Lewis
in 1977 who convinced Michael to turn professional.
Spinks then turned professional with a win over Eddie
Benson, knocked out in one round on April 17,1977 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 poular 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 baxing 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 IBF super-middleweight champion Murray Sutherland, David Conteh,
and fringe contenders Ramon Ronquillo and Alvaro Yaqui Lopez (who
challenged for a world title four times). Of his five wins that year,
three came by knockout, Sutherland and Johnny Wilburn being the only
ones who lasted the distance.
First world title
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