Toward the end of his boxing career Leon Spinks dabbled in wrestling. He accepted a challenge from Antonio Inoki, who had earlier hoped to secure a bout with either Larry Holmes or Leon's brother, Michael. On October 9, 1986, Spinks met Inoki in Japan. The rules were such that Inoki had to wear boxing gloves for the first three rounds. After that, he could wrestle conventionally.

The fight appeared to be obviously staged, with Inoki and Spinks going down together in the eighth round and Inoki winning on a "pinfall". But Spinks was less than convincing at the end and merely walked away (video). The match was a tremendous success for Japanese television.

The following comments were from Lee Kavetski of The Pacific Stars and Stripes:

Spinks is the fighter who electrified the boxing world back in February, 1978. Then a 24-year-old former Marine with just seven previous pro fights, Spinks beat Muhammad Ali over the 15-round distance for the heavyweight title in one of the greatest ring upsets of all-time.

 

Spinks, now 33 and fighting in the cruiserweight (195-pound limit) class, has a career 27-4-2 record. He normally weighs 205 pounds and sometimes ventures back into the heavyweight division. "I hold the Continental Americas heavyweight title," he pointed out.

 

Spinks was in Tokyo for one of those bizarre boxer vs. wrestler exhibitions that only seem to be taken seriously in Japan. He "lost" to Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki, who fought to a draw in the same kind of boxer-wrestler match with Ali in Tokyo in 1977.

 

"It was the first time I ever took part in that kind of a bout," Spinks smiled. "I just tried to give them a good show."

 

In the 1980's, Spinks performed in several other boxer vs. wrestler matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling, including this obviously staged bout with Tarzan Goto (video). On June 25, 1990, Spinks met Jerry "King" Lawler in Memphis and was beaten on a disqualification. From Weekly World News, 8/7/1990:

 

In Memphis, Teen at Mid-South Coliseum, King Jerry Lawler had a knockdown drag-out battle against two-time boxing champ Leon Spinks in the classic confrontation of wrestler vs. slugger. Spinks wore boxing gloves and attempted to land a K.O. punch on Lawler's jaw. But, Lawler proved to be fster and repeatedly knocked the boxer off his feet using legdives. Finally, the wrestler applied a punsihing hammerlock that almost removed Spinks' arm. Leon, in tremendous pain, succumbed to a pinfall

 

Lawler later said he had fun with Spinks and, when he fought him, he said to himself, "I can't believe I'm in the ring with somebody that beat Muhammad Ali."

 

 

 

 

 

 

RETURN