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Sonny Liston Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (40) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in St. Francis County, Arkansas, USA
Died in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameCharles Liston
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Charles "Sonny" Liston's life and death began and ended in the same manner: as a mystery. Liston, one of 25 children by his father, is reputed to have been born in May 1932, yet prison records show various birthdates, among them 1928. After a rough upbringing, with little formal education, Liston found himself in trouble with the law. He served brief prison terms and on one occasion was introduced to boxing by a prison chaplain. Liston excelled in his newfound love, boxing, and, after a short amateur career, turned professional. At 6 feet 1 inch and 217 pounds, Liston had devastating punching power, an iron chin, and lightning reflexes, along with a powerful jab. He quickly destroyed all the leading heavyweight contenders--Roy Harris, Zora Folley, Cleveland Williams--to earn a title shot against Floyd Patterson. Liston destroyed the champion in one round and destroyed him again in the rematch. Liston was the most feared man in the world, until Muhammad Ali arrived on the scene and knocked him out twice, ending his championship days and his reputation as the "World's Baddest Man." Liston continued to box until the time of his death. His 17-year ring log was an impressive 50-4 with 39 knockouts. Outside of the ring, Liston had a charming personality. He was friendly with his fans and had a soft spot for children. He acted in a number of films, the most famous being Harlow with Carroll Baker. He died under mysterious conditions on December 30, 1970.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: angelsunchained

Spouse (1)

Geraldine Clark (3 September 1957 - 30 December 1970) (his death)

Trade Mark (1)

His glaring stare

Trivia (40)

Was the favorite fighter of the famous Fab Four, the Beatles, and he appears on their "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cover.
World heavyweight boxing champion, 1962-1964. Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, 1991.
Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, 1990.
"Night Train" was his favorite song.
In Michael Mann's Ali, Liston was portrayed by famous boxer Michael Bentt, with whom he shares a strong resemblance.
James Ellroy portrayed Sonny Liston as a fight loser, a heroin addict, a black racist, and a Mafia jawbreaker in his novel "The Cold Six Thousand.".
William Friedkin was intended to direct his biopic "Night Train" with Ving Rhames as Sonny Liston.
He had the biggest fist of any heavyweight champion: 15 inches. He was officially knocked out by Muhammad Ali in one minute for the fastest KO in heavyweight history up to that time. Later, films of the fight showed the bout ended at the 1:25 mark.
Fought in three decades.
Was 35-1 going into the first Ali fight.
Made a comeback in 1968-1969 and won 14 straight before losing to Leotis Martin. In his next fight he bounced back to TKO Chuck Wepner shortly before his mysterious death in 1970.
Birth and death both remain mysteries.
When he won the heavyweight title in 1962 at age 30, he had a daughter age 25. However, it turned out to be his stepdaughter, the daughter of his wife.
He had no children of his own.
Served time in prison for robbery and later for assaulting a police officer.
Joe Louis rated Liston's jab one of the best in boxing history.
He was trained by Willie Redish and later by Dick Sadler.
George Foreman was his sparring partner from 1969 to 1970.
Knocked out #2-rated heavyweight contender Roy Harris (27-1) in one round.
He defeated heavyweight contenders Roy Harris, Zora Folley, Eddie Machen, Cleveland Williams, Mike DeJohn, Henry Clark, and Chuck Wepner.
Made over $4,000,000 in his career.
First heavyweight title challenger to earn a purse of $1,000,000.
First World Heavyweight Boxing Champion banned from fighting in New York State by the New York Boxing Commission.
Lived in a $50,000 Las Vegas home.
Liston was the youngest heavyweight boxing champion to die (age 38).
Before he was 18, Liston was convicted of six muggings.
Served a prison sentence at Missouri State Penitentiary for robbing a gas station at age 18.
Survived by his wife Geraldine and a step-daughter.
Won his last fight on June 29, 1970, at the Jersey City Armory, stopping Chuck Wepner in 9 bloody rounds. Wepner, "The Bayonne Bleeder" who inspired Sylvester Stallone to create the character Rocky Balboa, said that the 38-year-old (or 42-year-old, depending on the source) Liston hit harder than did the 33-year-old Muhammad Ali, whom Wepner fought for the heavyweight title in 1975.
When Liston died, he was rated 7th in the world heavyweight rankings by Ring Magazine.
General Melvin Krulewitch, chairman of the New York Boxing Commission in the 1950s, refused to issue Liston a license to fight in New York because he was guilty of associating with "questionable" characters.
Eddie Dooley, chairman of the New York Boxing Commission in the 1960s, said that as long as he was chairman of the commission Sonny Liston would never be granted a license to box in New York State.
In 1950, Liston was arrested at his apartment at 1006 O'Fallon Street for robbing the Unique Cafe on 1502 Market Street in St. Louis for 37 dollars.
Liston claimed he was born in 1932, yet his rap sheet for his 1950 arrest for armed robbery listed his age as 22, making him born in 1928.
Introduced to boxing by Father Stevens in the St. Louis City Jail during 1950.
Served 7 months in jail for beating up a police officer over a parking ticket in St. Louis in the mid-1950s.
Appeared in a Santa Claus hat on the cover of the December 1963 edition of Esquire Magazine. The cover was one of the most famous images of the early 1960s, as Liston embodied the fears of White America during the days when Southern police officials had attacked the burgeoning civil rights movement with violence, a violence white Americans feared might be returned onto them. Thus, cloaking the heavyweight champion of the world--the epitome of masculinity and male supremacy--in a Santa Claus hat was the height of irony at the time.
Is mentioned in the song "Swinging" by Tom Petty.
Time magazine photograph of Ali standing over Liston, taunting him, is one of the most popularly published in boxing.
When Sonny KO'd Floyd Patterson in 1962 for The World Heavyweight Championship,he became the only challenger to win that title by a first round KO. In 1996 when Mike Tyson KO'd Bruce Seldon in one round for the WBA Heavyweight Championship, Tyson had won the WBC Heavyweight Championship six months earlier and was seeking to unify the title.

Personal Quotes (2)

Liston on his age: "I'm like Jack Benny, I never tell my age."
In the films the good guy always wins, but this is one bad guy who ain't gonna lose.

See also

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