6 Boxing Greats Who Went Broke

The storyline about a famous athlete blowing the fortune they made during their playing days is almost commonplace. In a lot of cases, the athlete is someone in the middle of the pack in terms of talent who is trying to maintain a lifestyle they feel is part of being a superstar (i.e. one involving expensive cars, a huge mansion and other unnecessary items).

Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

Boxing has had a higher than average number of stars who have succumbed to this fate, including former world champions who, at one point, made as much as a nine-figure salary. There are a number of reasons why many of the best in the boxing ring lose all their money at an alarming rate – their promoters garnished too much in “fees,” they had love interests who helped decrease their bank account, or in some cases, they just didn’t know what to do with that large amount of cash.

It’s easy to forget to save money wisely when you’re given something so valuable — something most people don’t receive in their lifetime, let alone after some of the big-money main events that of today’s greats like Floyd Mayweather demand for a highly-anticipated pay-per-view match.

While many of the people on this list have suffered a variety of misfortunes, they all share the common result of losing their boxing fortune.

Wilfred Benitez

It’s uncertain how much the former world champion boxer made in his career that featured a record of 53-8-1 with 31 knockouts, but it’s believed to be somewhere between $3 million and $6 million while being one of the youngest to win a boxing championship at the age of 17 in 1976 – which is crazy to think about when most of us at that age were earning pennies working retail or fast food.


While his career started to falter after losing three of his final five bouts, Benitez became ill after being diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition that developed from all of the punches to the head he took during his years in the boxing ring. By 2002, he lost memory of who he was and how he was known by his family and the boxing community. Nothing worse than losing your fame and not even knowing about the titles you held in the WBC’s middleweight and welterweight divisions as one of the best young boxers of his generation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prebbleqram / Own Work

Prebbleqram / Own Work

It was no fault of Benitez how he lost his money. Because of his condition, all of his fortune was lost after his son managed his money poorly. He can now be found in a public nursing home, bound to a wheelchair and living on government assistance.

Leon Spinks

Maybe not the largest winning percentage on this list of boxing greats, but Spinks had an okay career with a record of 26-14-3 and 14 knockouts as a professional. But his best moment was winning gold as a light heavyweight during the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal, Canada.

Despite that near .500 winning record, Spinks had one of the biggest upsets in boxing history with the victory of Muhammed Ali back in 1978 for the WBA, WBC and The Ring world heavyweight championships. Overall, he would find himself making what is estimated to be about $4.5 million throughout his run from the 1970s and into the 1990s.

Johnmaxmena /Own Work

Johnmaxmena /Own Work

In the years that followed, all that money was gone and he was actually homeless at one point. This was followed by issues with law enforcement relating to his ongoing drug addictions. He may have turned his life around since then, as he has most recently been spotted working at a YMCA in Columbus, Nebraska.

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