American cities like Boston, New York City, and New Orleans were early adopters of boxing once it arrived from England in the late 1800s. Many of these early American matches were marketed as English vs Irish or native “American” versus Irish because of the lack of opportunity for English and Irish boxers back home.
In the late 19th century, the “muscular Christianity” movement, a religious group that saw sports as a way to improve one’s physical and moral strength, found supporters for boxing, despite the fact that it was initially considered illegal and many fights and fighters had to be hidden to avoid arrest. During his time in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt was an outspoken champion of boxing, and he continued to do so until a blow to the left retina left him blind in one eye.
Boxing remained a popular sport across the United States, and by the 1960s and 1970s, the sport had achieved its zenith in the United States. The sport was exposed to a wider audience via television and casino gambling, which increased the stakes for fans. Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Tiger were only some of the world’s most talented boxers who fought countless epic fights.
For all its ups and downs, the sport of boxing has remained a mainstay in American culture thanks to its iconic fighters, thrilling fights, legendary endurance and strength, and promotion of boxing as the epitome of masculinity. We’ll go over some other famous boxers that made history in boxing in Missouri
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It was September 21, 1985, when Larry Holmes attempted to match Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record as a heavyweight champion at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. “The Spinks Jinx” slammed into him at that point. Spinks shattered Holmes’ hopes and made boxing history of his own by winning a unanimous 15-round decision and becoming the first light-heavyweight world champion to win the world heavyweight championship in Missouri. Spinks’ boxing career culminated with that triumph, which was followed by a 93-7 amateur record, two national gold glove championships, an Olympic gold medal, and a 31-1 professional record.
Michael Spinks was a 6-1 underdog against Holmes despite being the younger brother of boxing greats Leon Spinks and Cory Spinks. Spinks won the heavyweight title with a score of 145-142, 143-142, and 143-142 from the judges. It wasn’t until seven months after the victory over Holmes that he was able to retain his title.
Boxing legend Leon Spinks is known for pulling off one of the sport’s most stunning upsets. On February 15, 1978, Spinks stunned the boxing world when he defeated Muhammad Ali in Las Vegas in a 15-round decision for the heavyweight belt. It was only his eighth professional bout, the quickest climb in history for the St. Louis native. Ali, who was already past his prime, had expected an easy victory, but Spinks proved him wrong. Ali had a bruised and swollen face for the first time in his life.
As a professional boxer, Spinks had a record of 26 wins, 17 defeats, and 3 draws, including 14 knockout victories. At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, he and his brother Michael both won gold medals in the light-heavyweight class. In 1974, he won the bronze medal in the first Havana World Amateur Boxing Championships. The next year, he won the silver medal in the Pan-American Games, then the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada.
Leon became one half of the first pair of brothers to hold world heavyweight belts when his brother Michael beat Larry Holmes in 1985 to win the IBF heavyweight title. Their exclusivity lasted for a decade before the Klitschko brothers joined them.
When Leon retired from professional boxing, he continued to wrestle in New Japan Pro Wrestling events. He went on to work with Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, where he won the world championship in 1992 and a long career in the sport. It wasn’t uncommon for autograph events to have Spinks as the main attraction in the late 1990s.
Leon experienced a number of health concerns as a child in St. Louis. A few weeks after his birth, he developed yellow jaundice and was on the verge of death. It wasn’t a good idea to live in a crime-ridden region of St. Louis if he suffered from low blood pressure and fainting episodes. It wasn’t uncommon for gangs in the area to attack brothers Leon and Michael. When he was younger, “I’d get into fights,” he said afterward. When we were younger, “But when we were younger, there were always too many guys battling us at one time,”
Kay, Leon’s mother, reared him and his six siblings as a hardworking, God-fearing family on welfare and by reading the Bible to them for hours every night after dinner. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, Spinks completed the 10th grade. The young man’s lack of discipline made it difficult for him to adapt to military life. In his six months in boot camp, he had several fights with his drill sergeants.
Spinks eventually came to terms with his new situation, leaving boot camp, and joining the All-Marine boxing team after a few months. Over the course of three years, he knocked out 133 of his opponents, making him the finest amateur boxer in the world by 1976.
A 25-year-old from Missouri, Alexander has the ability to draw a crowd. Two years ago, Alexander was considered one of the sport’s brightest prospects, having won the WBC and IBF titles in the space of a year following his victory against Junior Witter in August 2009.
Charles Lee Martin (April 24, 1986) is a former IBF heavyweight champion from the United States. After Tony Tucker’s 64-day run as heavyweight champion in 1987, his reign as champion lasted 85 days (also as IBF champion). The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board placed Martin at its highest active heavyweight position of eighth during his brief stint as IBF champion.
When Martin began boxing at the age of 22, he had 64 fights under his belt as an amateur. In 2012 he won the National PAL Championships.
On October 27, 2012, Martin became a full-fledged professional. On July 19, 2013, he made his ESPN debut by stopping Aaron Kinch by fourth-round technical knockout. A year ago, he knocked out Vincent Thompson (13–0) on September 21. Martin won the bout by a unanimous decision in Thompson’s home state of Washington. First time in his career, he knocked out his opponent in the first round. On October 25, Martin dominated Haitian Dieuly Aristilde, winning through a first-round technical knockout (TKO) victory. Martin stopped Joey Dawejko for the first time on November 14th. Fourth-round knockout for Martin. The corner of Dawejko requested that the bout be stopped between rounds four and five. This year, Charles Martin fought a total of 11 times. He defeated unbeaten Cuban heavyweight Glendy Hernandez on December 21.
Boxing in Missouri is growing every day, especially in the city of St. Louis, which is known for its rich past and a promising future.