Charles L. "Sonny" Liston (May 8, 1932-December 30, 1970) was a
formidable boxer who became world heavyweight champion in 1962 by
knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. Liston was one of
the most powerful punchers in the history of the heavyweight
Liston made his professional debut on September 2, 1953,
knocking out Don Smith in the first round in St. Louis, where he
fought the first five bouts. In his sixth bout, in Detroit,
Michigan, he faced John Summerlin (22-0) on national
In 1960, Liston won five more fights. In 1962, Liston and
Patterson met and Liston became world champion by knocking out
Patterson in the first round.
Liston did not box again in 1963, but in 1964 he faced a young
contender named Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). Liston lost his title
when he quit in his corner before the start of the 7th round.
Liston was scheduled to fight a rematch with Clay and less than two
minutes into the fight, it was over. While he was pulling away from
Liston, Ali hit Liston with what came to be known as a "phantom
punch," and Liston went down.