A Mysterious Death
Sonny Liston never again got a shot at the title, but he never quite retired from the ring either. He won eleven straight fights by knockout, mostly in Europe, through 1968. In his last fight, against Chuck Wepner in June of 1970, he won a 10th round technical knockout. At the time of this last fight, Liston claimed to be 38, but many think he was closer to 50.
As in birth, mystery surrounds Sonny Liston's death. On January 5, 1971, Geraldine Liston returned from a trip to St. Louis to find her husband dead in their Las Vegas home. The coroner's report was inconclusive, but strongly implied heart failure, although traces of heroin were found in his blood. Some thought the ex-champ, jobless and nearly broke, had killed himself. Others thought an accidental overdose had carried him off. Still others, of course, concluded that the mob had decided it was time for Sonny Liston to take another dive, permanently.
Sonny Liston's death, at an indeterminate age, of an undetermined cause, may seem a fitting end for a controversial fighter with such shadowy connections. Even more fitting may be a comment he once made to an interviewer: "Ever since I was born, I've been fighting for my life." Sonny Liston lived and died a fighter, and in the words of the simple epitaph over his grave: "A Man."
- Sonny Liston - Awards And Accomplishments
- Sonny Liston - The Fall And Decline
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