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SONNY LISTON

FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION (1932-1970)

A multi-talented fighter, it could be said that Sonny Liston's best weapon was intimidation.  He had one of the best jabs in boxing and knockout power in each hand, but Liston's baleful scowl often had opponents defeated before the first bell.  Born one of 25 brothers and sisters, Liston led a troubled life and learned boxing while serving time in prison for armed robbery.  He turned pro in 1953 and rapidly ascended the heavyweight ranks, leaving a stem of knockout victims in his wake.  He posted wins over top contenders such as Cleveland Williams, Nino Valdes, Zora Folley and Eddie Machen to position himself for a title fight. 

He became heavyweight champion of the world on September 25, 1962 when he kayoed Floyd Patterson in one round.  He granted Patterson a rematch 10 months later but the result was the same.  Liston by knockout in the first round.  Liston's reign as champion ended when challenger Cassius Clay defeated him in 1964.  A rematch took place a year later and Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali scored a knockout victory.  It was 1970 when he defeated a young Chuck Wepner in his last professional fight.  Sonny Liston compiled a record of 50 wins and four losses with 39 knockouts as he made a place for himself as one of the greatest heavyweight champions in the history of boxing.

Revised: July 18, 2013.