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i'm not sure who wrote this article..just another document i found going through folders here, thought it worth'll be a few years old now...


Few visitors spare a second glance for the scruffy man dragging the mop back and forth across the toilet floor.
With his giant hands, he squirts detergent in the urinal and fills the dispenser with clean towels.
But the gap-toothed grin that lights up his face as he works quietly away was once known to millions.
For the odd-job man is Leon Spinks - who dethroned the legendary Muhammad Ali in 1978 in one of the greatest upsets in boxing but then squandered the millions he made in the ring.
Now Spinks, 52, cleans toilets and throws out rubbish at the Columbus Family YMCA in Nebraska for £3.70 an hour. During the week he has a second job emptying bins and unloading supplies at McDonald's.
The former heavyweight champ and Olympic gold medallist spends his days fighting to earn a living and his nights watching westerns and gangster and horror flicks.
He hands his glasses in at the YMCA front desk for safe keeping and sets about cleaning locker rooms, toilets, gym and corridors.
"I needed some help and he was available," explains YMCA president Bob Lauterbach. "My supervisor says he's doing a good job."
The broad shoulders, thick neck and muscular build are the only signs of the athlete Spinks once was. He won light heavyweight gold at the 1976 Olympics. Two years later he beat Ali on points over 15 tough rounds in Las Vegas.
As he waited for the opening bell that night, he couldn't believe he was standing in the same ring with Ali. "I just figured: 'It's his ass or mine'," he says.
In a glorious era for heavyweights, he became top dog, his infectious grin making him one of the planet's most recognisable athletes. He earned millions, made the cover of Sports Illustrated and even hired hardman Mr T as his bodyguard.
Seven months later Spinks and Ali stood before 70,000 spectators at the Superdome in New Orleans for the rematch.
A global audience saw Ali win a unanimous 15-round decision, although Spinks has always thought the verdict should have gone to him.
The former champ still carries himself with dignity despite his current predicament.
"Well, I'm still breathing, still making money," says Spinks, who came to Columbus after being smitten by Brenda Glur, a woman he met on the road and now lives with in a rundown apartment. "I'm happy 'bout life. Still trying. I ain't giving up on life."
But the years have been tough. After Ali he got one more crack at the heavyweight title, losing to Larry Holmes in 1981. But he blew his millions on drink and drugs, got divorced and lived briefly in an East St Louis homeless shelter. Th public perception of him is that he partied away the £3million he earned from boxing.
"That's bulls**t," he snaps. "I was stupid and gave the lawyers power of attorney."
He says he never saw a penny of the £2.1million he made for Ali- Spinks II. "They stole all my money," he says.
AS well as his day jobs, he does volunteer work at an after-school programme. He never turns away a kid asking for an autograph or advice.
"I'd love to teach kids how to box here," he says. "There's nothing to do here but get in trouble."
He keeps a low profile in this town of 21,000. Asked about him in the Village Inn, a waitress says: "Leon who?"
And Bob Lauterbach reveals: "He's never said a word to me about his fighting career."
Painfully shy, Spinks is uncomfortable with celebrity but says he feels comfortable in Columbus. "It's fun," he insists. "I have a good time. I meet a lot of people."
Lauterbach says: "I call him Champ and he likes that. We get a ton of phone calls, mostly people wanting him to sign stuff."
The Champ once spoke to a large group of kids at the centre.
"When they found out he won the championship of the world by beating Ali, they flipped out," says Bob. "He told them: 'Don't do drugs.' Everybody applauded."
He gets half-price Big Macs for working at McDonald's, but that's a small bonus compared to the great memories he can still cling to.
"Oh, the gold, man," he recalls. "It was great. I fought for my country. I represented the United States. They can take away the title. Nobody can take the gold from me."
When his brother Michael beat Holmes in 1985 the Spinks boys became the first brothers to be world heavyweight champions.
But while Michael kept his money and bought a £1.7million estate in Delaware, Leon lost his.
"We're still close," says Leon. But the proud Champ won't ask Michael for financial help.
"I can make it myself," he insists. "God gave me the strength to see and breathe and talk. Everything ain't gone. I ain't gonna ask for nothing."

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Its one of those things. It frustrates me that these men could/should have enough money to see them out the rest of their lives but in a strange way a lot of boxers seem resigned to that kind of life. Like in a way the money doesnt matter its about pride, its about what they were, people just take advantage of that kind of aspiration.

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Saw him last night in the dressing room ahead of Cory's fight and he was looking reasonably well and had considerably more teeth than I remember him having.
Yeah, and he's sorted out that three foot gap between his front teeth and all.

However menial the job hes doing is, at least its keeping him off the streets and busy.
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