LAS VEGAS: Leon Spinks, who won Olympic gold and then shocked the boxing world by beating Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in only his eighth pro fight, has died. He was 67.

Spinks, who lived his later years in Las Vegas, died on Friday (Saturday in Manila), according to a release from a public relations firm. He had been battling prostate and other cancers.

AP21038007421680 800x533 - Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks dies at 67
FILE – In this Feb. 15, 1978, file photo, Leon Spinks, right, connects with a right hook to Muhammad Ali, during the late rounds of their championship fight in Las Vegas. Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks Jr. died Friday night, Feb. 5, 2021, after battling prostate and other cancers. He was 67. (AP Photo/File)

His wife, Brenda Glur Spinks, and a few close friends and other family members were by his side when he passed away.

A lovable heavyweight with a drinking problem, Spinks beat Ali by decision in a 15-round fight in 1978 to win the title. He was unranked at the time, and picked as an opponent because Ali was looking for an easy fight.

He got anything but that, with an unorthodox Spinks swarming over Ali throughout the fight on his way to a stunning win by split decision. The two met seven months later at the Superdome in New Orleans, with Ali taking the decision this time before a record indoor boxing crowd of 72,000 and a national television audience estimated at 90 million people.

“It was one of the most unbelievable things when Ali agreed to fight him because you look at the fights he had up to then and he was not only not a top contender but shouldn’t have been a contender at all,’’ promoter Bob Arum said Saturday (Sunday in Manila). ”He was just an opponent but somehow he found a way to win that fight.”

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