Trophy Store Blog
East End Olympic Legend Dies Age 74
27 April 2012
Terry Spinks, who become the youngest ever British athlete, at eighteen years of age, to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing, has died at the age of 74.
The Olympic gold was the most famous of his boxing trophies, but he also won a good number of other medals after winning 41 out of his 49 professional boxing bouts during his short sporting career.
After starting his boxing career at the West Ham Amateur Boxing Club, which also produced Nigel Benn, Spinks, the son of an East London Bookmaker, earned a living working as a bin man in the East End of London before he received his call to take part in the Olympic Games to be held in Australia that year.
Despite having only a week to prepare before the start of the Olympics, Spinks went on to fight his way through the tournament before beating the Romanian, Mircea Dobrescu in the final of the tournament to win one of the most important boxing trophies of his life.
Following the Olympics, Spinks took up the sport professionally for a few years, winning the British Featherweight title in 1960, before retiring at the young age of 24.
However, he did not abandon the sport entirely, and later went on to coach the South Korean team at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Although not competing, he played an important role in the Games when he raised the alarm after seeing the Black September terrorists as they approached the Israeli athlete’s quarters.
Sadly, Spinks lapsed into alcoholism in later years and became ill although a hard fought campaign by his cousin finally saw him being awarded an MBE. Many observers were surprised that he had not received this medal before; it is thought that being photographed with the Kray twins in 1960 did nothing to help his cause.
Despite his ill health, Spinks could not completely retire from the sport he had loved and which had brought him many boxing trophies, and he was often to be seen at meetings of the London ex-Boxers' Association until very shortly before his death.
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