Sonny Liston: His Life, Strife and the Phantom Punch

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Sonny Liston: His Life, Strife and the Phantom Punch Details

If professional boxing has never been short on controversy or controversial figures throughout its chequered history, 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 mesmerising portrait of one of the most formidable boxers of all time, told with compassion. Rob Steen is a freelance journalist and has written for the Independent on Sunday, Wisden Cricket Monthly, the Financial Times and Daily Telegraph. He has written numerous books on sport.
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