Black and white photograph of a boxer and black text underneath on a white background
Charles L. “Sonny” Liston (1932-1971) was a heavyweight boxer born in Arkansas before moving to St. Louis, Missouri where he was incarcerated in 1950 for robbery. It was in prison that Liston began boxing and earned his nickname, Sonny, from a fellow inmate. Upon parole, Liston began his professional boxing career, ultimately winning 50 of 54 fights, 39 of those by knockout. Liston was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.
Trouble followed Liston throughout his life, including involvement with organized crime and drugs, during his career and in retirement. Drugs likely played a role in his ultimate death. Liston’s body was discovered by his wife in January 1971, along with drug paraphernalia, though no cause of death was officially listed.