Sonny Liston: His Life, Strife and the Phantom Punch
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The career of Charles "Sonny" Liston has attracted more debate and hostility than that of any other master of the squared circle. Even now, there remain more questions than answers: How much was he controlled and manipulated by underworld figures? Did he take a dive in the momentous bout with Cassius Clay? When was he born and how and why did he die? What is certain is Sonny's standing as one of the most formidable punchers ever to enter the ring. Despite all the efforts of the boxing fraternity, he was finally allowed to fight for the world title nine years after turning professional. Grasping his chance with indecent haste, he deposed Floyd Patterson with a first-round knockout, then repeated the dose a year later. He was not seen as a suitable role model by the civil rights movement because of his criminal past and dubious associates, and was reluctant to participate in the pursuit of racial equality. Meanwhile, he was constantly pursued and badgered by the police, compelling him to move from state to state in search of refuge. A larger than life character with a life of ups and downs, ending in tragedy, this is a mesmerizing portrait of one of the most formidable boxers of all time.
in Los Angeles and 13,000 at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. In addition, millions of Europeans would see a delayed transmission of the fight (which was due to take place in the middle of their night) via satellite and kinescope. Theatre Network Television Inc., the company that had purchased the screening rights from Inter-Continental Promotions, predicted record takings of $3.2 million. Once the outlets had extracted their 50 per cent share, ICP would be entitled to 85 per cent of the remnants. WABC
thinking on. What bothered Liston was height, awkwardness and speed, things that prevented him from leaning in with that great left jab he had. He used to really lean in with that jab. But I figured I knew what Liston was thinking. That this kid can’t really fight, that he runs too much. But he didn’t know this kid’s strength. To me, there was no way this kid could lose to Liston as long as he didn’t let Liston jab him. The whole key was for my kid to surround that jab by going to his left, away
‘Babe’ at the Los Angeles Olympiad, her reward for becoming the first, and thus far only, athlete to win golds for running, jumping and throwing. In Chicago, Al Capone was still getting used to life behind bars after receiving an eleven-year sentence for tax evasion, while New York was growing accustomed to life without another gangster megastar, Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond, gunned down in his sleep the previous Christmas. The sighs of relief were even more pronounced the following April, when scientists
began to vomit, prompting his brother, Rudy, to call a doctor. At that moment, Angelo Dundee was watching a closed-circuit telecast of a football game between Boston University and the University of Miami. When, at half-time, the commentator announced that Ali had been taken to Boston City Hospital, he dashed there himself and discovered an operation in progress. It was a congenital condition, ruled the surgeon, although Sonny maintained that it could have been prevented ‘if he’d stop all that
the Ali camp changed with the murder of Al Hajj Malik al-Shabazz (né Malcolm X) on 21 February. The erstwhile voice of the Nation of Islam had not seen eye-to-eye with the pacifistic approach of Martin Luther King; indeed, he had alienated many blacks, including Elijah Muhammad, who had dismissed him from the Black Muslims in 1963. His passing none the less coincided with an outbreak of renewed black unrest. On the first of the month, Dr King and some 300 supporters had been arrested in Selma,