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Sonny Liston Bio, Age, Weight, Cause of Death, Record, Quotes and Cassius Clay.

Sonny Liston Bio

Sonny Liston real name Charles L. “Sonny” Liston was an American professional boxer who competed from 1953 to 1970.

A dominant contender of his era, he became the world heavyweight champion in 1962 after knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round, repeating the knockout the following year in defense of the title; in the latter fight, he also became the inaugural WBC heavyweight champion.

Sonny Liston’s photo

Sonny Liston Age

Liston believed his date of birth to be May 8, 1932, but he died on 30th December 1970 at the age of 38 years old.

Sonny Liston Height/Weight

Liston had a height of 6’1′ tall and a weight of 219lbs.

Sonny Liston Death/Cause of Death

Following the win over Wepner, Liston was going to face Canadian champion George Chuvalo, but the fight never took place. “When I signed to fight him (in December 1970) he’d been dead for a week”, Chuvalo stated years later.

“He passed away after I’d sent a telegram to the promoter, agreeing to terms to the fight at the Montreal Forum. A day or so later a news report flashes up saying former heavyweight champion of the world Sonny Liston found dead at his Las Vegas home. I’d actually signed a contract to face a dead man.”

Liston was found dead by his wife, Geraldine, in their Las Vegas home on January 5, 1971. On returning home from a two-week trip, Geraldine had smelled a foul odor emanating from the main bedroom and on entering saw Sonny slumped up against the bed, a broken foot bench on the floor.

Authorities theorized that he was undressing for bed when he fell over backward with such force that he broke the rail of the bench. Geraldine called Sonny’s attorney and his doctor but did not notify the police until two to three hours later.

Sergeant Dennis Caputo of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department was one of the first officers on the scene. Caputo found a quarter-ounce of heroin in a balloon in the kitchen and a half-ounce of marijuana in Liston’s pants pocket, but no syringes or needles.

Some found it suspicious that authorities could not locate any drug paraphernalia that Liston presumably would have needed to inject the fatal dose, such as a spoon to cook the heroin or a tourniquet to wrap around his arm. However, former Las Vegas police sergeant Gary Beckwith said, “It wasn’t uncommon for family members in these cases to go through and tidy up…to save family embarrassment.”

Following an investigation, Las Vegas police concluded that there were no signs of foul play and declared Liston’s death a heroin overdose. “It was common knowledge that Sonny was a heroin addict”, said Caputo. “The whole department knew about it.” The date of death listed on his death certificate is December 30, 1970, which police estimated by judging the number of milk bottles and newspapers around the front door of the property.

Coroner Mark Herman said traces of heroin byproducts were found in Liston’s system, but not in amounts large enough to have caused his death. Also, scar tissue, possibly from needle marks, was found in the bend of Liston’s left elbow. The toxicology report said his body was too decomposed for the tests to be conclusive.

Officially, Liston died of lung congestion and heart failure. He had been suffering from hardening of the heart muscle and lung disease before his death. Liston had been hospitalized in early December, complaining of chest pains.

Many people who knew Liston insisted that he was afraid of needles and never would have used heroin. “He had a deadly fear of needles”, said Davey Pearl, a boxing referee, and friend of Liston’s. “There was nothing Sonny feared more than a needle. I know!” said Liston’s Philadelphia dentist, Dr. Nick Ragni. “He was afraid of needles”, echoed Father Edward Murphy.

“He would do everything to avoid taking shots.” According to Liston’s trainer, Willie Reddish, Liston canceled a planned tour to Africa in 1963 because he refused to get the required inoculations. Liston’s wife also reported that her husband would refuse basic medical care for common colds because of his dislike of needles.

“The month before he died, some guy ran into Sonny while he was making a left turn. He had a whiplash, so they took him to the hospital”, said boxing trainer Johnny Tocco. “He said: ‘Look what they did!’ and he was pointing at some little bandage over the needle mark in his arm.

He was more angry about that shot than he was about the car wreck. A couple of weeks later, he was still complainin’ about that needle mark. To this day, I’m convinced that’s what the coroner saw in his exam—that hospital needle mark.”

Some claim Liston was murdered. There are several theories as to why: Publicist Harold Conrad and others believed that Liston was deeply involved as a bill collector in a loan-sharking ring in Las Vegas. When he tried to muscle in for a bigger share of the action, Conrad surmised that his employers got him very drunk, took him home, and stuck him with a needle.

Professional gambler Lem Banker insists that Liston was murdered by drug dealers with whom he’d become involved.

The banker said he was told by police that Liston had been seen at a house that would be the target of a drug raid. The banker said, “Sheriff [Ralph] Lamb told me, ‘Tell your pal Sonny to stay away from the West Side because we’re going to bust the drug dealers.” Banker later learned that the police told Liston the same thing to his face. He apparently was at the dealers’ house shortly before they got busted.

Because of that, the dealers may have thought Sonny ratted on them and they shot him with a hot dose as retribution. The mob promised Liston some money to throw the second Ali fight, but they never paid him. As the years passed and Liston’s financial situation worsened, he got angry and told the mob he’d go public with the story unless they gave him the money.

That got him killed. Liston was supposed to take a dive when he fought Chuck Wepner six months earlier, and killing him was payback for his failure to do so.

Some believe the police covered up what happened.[who?] On January 1, Liston’s wife called Johnny Tocco and said she hadn’t heard from her husband in three days and was worried. A few years before Tocco died, he allegedly told his good friend, Tony Davi, that he went to Liston’s house and found the door locked and his car in the driveway. Tocco called the police, and they broke into the house.

Tocco said that the living room furniture was in disarray, but the house did not yet smell of death. He said they found Sonny lying on his bed with a needle sticking out of his arm. Johnny left the house before the police did. “Johnny wasn’t a braggart,” Davi told Liston biographer Paul Gallender. “He told me in the strictest confidence, but it was like he wanted to get it off his chest.”

Gallender claims, “A lot of officers knew Sonny was dead before Geraldine returned home on January 5, but they chose to let him rot.”

As an homage to Sonny Liston, a bronze copy of a marble statue made by Alfred Hrdlicka in 1963/64 was put up in 2008 between Old Castle and Karlsplatz in downtown Stuttgart, Germany.

Sonny Liston Record

Liston was noted for his punching power and durability. From 1953 (his first recorded fight) through 1970 Liston, who stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 meters) tall and weighed 215 pounds (97.5 kg), had 54 bouts, winning 39 by knockouts and losing only 4.

He defended his title successfully only once, scoring another first-round knockout over Patterson, but in his next bout, he complained of an injury after six rounds and refused to continue fighting against Clay. In a rematch with Clay on May 25, 1965, Liston was knocked out in the first round.

Sonny Liston Quotes

1. Come over here and sit on my knee and finish your orange juice.
2. Newspapermen ask dumb questions. They look up at the sun and ask if it is shining.
3. How would you like to find out how good my right is?

4. The only thing my old man ever gave me was a beating.
5. A boxing match is like a cowboy movie. There’s got to be good guys and there’s got to be bad guys. And that’s what people pay for – to see the bad guys get beat.

Sonny Liston vs Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston to become world heavyweight champion – archive, 1964

26 February 1964: Boxing champion Sonny Liston retires before the start of the seventh round of his fight with Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)

There was a sensational end to the world championship here tonight when Sonny Liston retired before the start of the seventh round of his championship fight.

The first round began with Liston on the attack. The champion was inbounding form, and Clay was forced to dance and dodge his way out of trouble. Even so, he was hurt by a right from Liston. Clay then took the fight back to Liston.

The second round opened with Clay on the attack, but Liston looked the more composed. Liston began to pound Clay and the challenger was breathing heavily. Clay swayed out of reach of one great lunge just before the round ended. In the third round, Clay forced a cut under Liston’s eye – and the champion was worried.

Reeling on ropes

Liston was on the defensive for a time, then Clay was in trouble as Liston banged him about the body. But Liston soon had Clay reeling on the ropes. In round four Liston drove Clay into his own corner, but Clay slid along the ropes to escape. Clay was aiming for Liston’s cut eye.

Clay appeared to be conserving his energy; Liston certainly seemed puzzled. There seemed to be something wrong with Clay’s eyes in the fifth round – and Liston had him on the run. In a sensational turn of events, Clay protested that he could not see. Clay was now being chased around the ring; his behavior mystified the crowd.

Clay fined

Earlier, Clay was fined $2,500 by the local Boxing Commission for his conduct at the weigh-in when he kicked and screamed as his handlers held him and frustrated his mock efforts to get at Liston, at whom he yelled a non-stop stream of insults.

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