Michael Spinks: A truly gifted champion

By: AJAY BHAI AMRIT Michael Spinks was one of the most gifted and unorthodox heavyweight champions of all time. He was quite literally a brilliant boxer and had an amazing
11 Mar 2012 11:36


Michael Spinks was one of the most gifted and unorthodox heavyweight champions of all time.
He was quite literally a brilliant boxer and had an amazing career.
He was a light middleweight amateur champion at 70 kilos, he then went on to become middleweight champion at 75 kilos and won the pinnacle in the amateur code by becoming the Olympic Middleweight Champion winning gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
Michael then turned professional with the charismatic promoter and manager Butch Lewis.
Not being one for talking too much and also being painfully camera shy, Michael left it to Butch Lewis, his promoter to do the talking on this behalf.
Upon turning professional he went on to rack up a great undefeated record to put him in contention for the Light heavyweight Championship of the World (79 kilos).
Michael Spinks got his chance to challenge for the title in July 1981 and won the championship in style.
Shortly after this tragedy struck as Spinks wife was hit and killed by a drunk driver and Michael suddenly became a single father to his little daughter.
Nevertheless even though he was hurting terribly inside and even broke down in tears only moments before a title fight he continued with his career and went on to become one of the greatest Light Heavyweight Champions of all time.
Having made 10 successful defences of his light heavyweight title and running out of viable challengers he was offered a shot at the heavyweight champion of the world Larry Holmes.
Michael Spinks decided to take on the challenge and see if he could succeed where everybody had failed and move up from light heavyweight champion to capture the heavyweight championship.
Things were so bad for Spinks that they had to keep all the newspapers away from him during his training camp as no one gave him a chance and the media had totally written him off.
There was also another problem Michael was finding it hard to put on weight as he wanted to hit the 200 pound mark (90 kilos) in order to challenge for the title and not be too small.
On September 21, 1985, Michael Spinks was ready to challenge Larry Holmes for the heavyweight championship of the world.
Spinks weighing in at just about 200 pounds (90 kilos) with weights in his pocket to make him seem heavier fought a tactically brilliant fight and kept the bigger and stronger champion at bay and at the end of 15 rounds was the new heavyweight champion. Michael told me that the next day he got out of bed looked in the mirror and just could not stop laughing as he couldn’t believe that he had won the title. In a rematch with Holmes he once again won and went on to defend his title a couple of times.
Unfortunately for Michael Spinks there was a young brute of a heavyweight named Mike Tyson who was waiting in the wings to challenge him.
On June 27, 1988, Michael Spinks defended his title against Mike Tyson.  Tyson was on a guaranteed $47 million and Michael Spinks was guaranteed $27m for this fight. Unfortunately for Michael Spinks, he was knocked out in 91 seconds by the menacing Tyson.
Spinks retired after the fight with his first professional loss.
This was the first loss in his entire professional career as both light heavyweight champion and heavyweight champion.
He had amassed a great career light middleweight amateur champion, Olympic gold middleweight champion, light heavyweight champion of the world and heavyweight champion of the world. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I knew Michael Spinks manager, Butch Lewis, quite well and on the many occasions I met Michael I just could not imagine he could beat the really big guys in the heavyweight division as he was so skinny and light, but it just goes to show what Michael once told me.
“If you don’t try you will never succeed so I decided to try”. The results speak for themselves.
Michael Spinks was an unconventional heavyweight champion but in all the times I met him, he was a true gentleman of the game.
With fame, fortune, a great legacy and respect within the game, Michael Spinks even though a quiet man by nature, his spectacular career spoke volumes about what a true underdog can achieve.

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