Sonny Liston Dies December 30, 1970 – – Body Found January 5
When Sonny (Charles) Liston’s body was found on January 5, 1971, he was just another washed up pug. His death certificate says he died on December 30, 1970, but that’s just an estimate the cops made, based on the number of unopened milk bottles and newspapers they found at his front door. (Historical note — milk used to be sold in bottles and a guy called “The Milkman” brought it to your house.)
From the LA TimesAlthough Liston-Ali II finished Liston as a big-money fighter, he continued to fight lesser names in the heavyweight division.
Then, in the first week of January, 1970, Liston’s wife, Geraldine, returned home from a trip and found Liston’s decomposing body on their bed, on his back, clad only in shorts and socks. There was blood on his face and chest, and a small glass of vodka on the nightstand.
The milk bottles and newspapers on the front porch indicated to police that he had been dead five or six days. Since the death certificate required a date, it was fixed at Dec. 30. Read more
From The Las Vegas Sun Officially, Liston died of lung congestion and heart failure.
But many believe Liston’s relationship with undesirables led to his fate. An autopsy revealed traces of morphine and codeine in his body, and an arm had fresh needle tracks. His wife, Geraldine, found him, badly decomposed, in their Las Vegas home. Marijuana, heroin and a syringe were found nearby. Read more
A decade earlier, he was considered to be the most intimidating fighter of his generation. Not until Mike Tyson burst onto the scene in the mid 1980’s, was there a professional boxer who scared the hell out of his opponents the way Sonny Liston did.
From East Side Boxing Is Liston in fact, THE single most successful heavyweight in all of boxing when it comes to being able to win fights through little other than scaring his man stiff – therefore making his adversary an easy, ready-for-the-taking, deer caught in the headlights, “victim?” Of course, Liston had other ring skills, a punishing jab and awesome punching power, to name just two. But without his ability at terrifying an opponent even before the first bell, Sonny was certainly a lot less effective a fighter. This was also very much the case with another legendary heavyweight – the former champ who lists Liston as one of his ring idols.
Mike Tyson’s name naturally springs to mind when thinking of heavyweight boxers who were able to win fights simply by reducing a challenger to relative helplessness through fear. And like Liston, when this particular weapon in the arsenal failed, Tyson’s effectiveness as a fighter was quite severely compromised. Take away either heavyweight champions’ intimidation tactics by refusing to fall to them, and you had a good shot at a win. Ali did it to Liston (and George Foreman, no slouch himself in the arms crossed, intimidate the hell out of you stakes!) While, most famously, James Douglas and later, Evander Holyfield, did it to Tyson. Read more
From Coxcorner The heavyweight one truly would not want to face, who was truly intimidating and had size, strength, power and the most menacing countenance of any fighter was Sonny Liston. Sonny’s frightening scowl had most of his opponents beaten before the opening bell. Muhammad Ali called Sonny “the scariest” opponent he ever met in a ring. Not only was Liston a monster in physical appearance but also in temperament. Sonny was an enforcer with the mob, he didn’t fear any man. He beat the hell out of police officers, he didn’t care. He was one mean mutha. When Sonny gazed at you with his baleful glare he literally wanted to burn a hole right through you. His opponent’s knew it too. Heavyweight contender Henry Cooper wanted no part of Liston. His manager said, “When we saw Sonny Liston coming, we’d cross to the other side of the street.” Read more