1993 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Rev. Leion Watkins was born in Flint, and attended the Flint schools. He is one of four fighting brothers, who are well-known among Michigan fight fans. He was an upright fighter with a superb jab, a slender physique and fast, powerful hands. He was one of Flint’s greatest amateur fighters.
One of Flint’s most memorable and exciting amateur fights was between Leion and Herb Odom, a two-time NCAA Champion. Leion won that fight by a split decision.
He was the city Golden Gloves and State Featherweight Champion in 1951. In 1952, he moved up to another division, and won the City and State Golden Gloves Lightweight Championship. Fighting in the Chicago Tournament of Champions, Leion lost in the finals.
In 1953, fighting as a welterweight, he won the City Welterweight Championship, but was forced out in the State Semi-finals with a cut lip. He later won the AAU Welterweight title.
After entering the armed forces Leion continued fighting. In 1953, he won the Fort Knox Lightweight Championship, He was the Eighth Army and Far East Light middle Weight and Lightweight Champion.
In 1954, Leion lost in the quarter finals at the Pan American Games, which were held in Mexico City. He did, however, win the Outstanding Boxing Award in the Eighth Army Boxing Tournament. He was the Eighth Army Champion in Korea three times.
During his amateur boxing career Leion had 112 fights. Leion also had a brief professional boxing career.
A retired Chevrolet Manufacturing Supervisor, Leion lives in Flint with his wife Rev. Lois Watkins, and is the pastor of Free At Last Gospel Cathedral Church. Rev. and Mrs. Watkins are also the proud parents of eight children (Roderick, Sylvania, Leonardo, Margaret, Marcheta, JoNathan, Isaac and Theresa).