Liston and Ali: The Ugly Bear and the Boy Who Would Be King

Overview


Three months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, two prizefighters named Charles “Sonny” Liston and Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. stepped into a boxing ring in Miami to dispute the heavyweight championship of the world. Liston was a mob fighter with a criminal past, and rumors were spreading that Clay was not just a noisy, bright-eyed boy blessed with more than his share of the craziness of youth, but a believer in a shadowy cult: the Nation of Islam. Neither could be a ...
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Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear

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Overview


Three months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, two prizefighters named Charles “Sonny” Liston and Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. stepped into a boxing ring in Miami to dispute the heavyweight championship of the world. Liston was a mob fighter with a criminal past, and rumors were spreading that Clay was not just a noisy, bright-eyed boy blessed with more than his share of the craziness of youth, but a believer in a shadowy cult: the Nation of Islam. Neither could be a hero in the eyes of the media.

Against this backdrop of political instability, of a country at war with itself, in a time when ordinary African-American people were maimed and killed for the smallest acts of defiance, Liston and Clay sought out their own individual destinies. Liston and Ali follows the contrasting paths these two men took, from their backgrounds in Arkansas and Kentucky through to that sixteen-month period in 1964 and 1965 when the story of the world heavyweight championship centered on them and all they stood for. Both Ali and Liston’s tracks are followed as their paths diverge: Ali going on to greatness with his epic fights and Liston catapulted back into oblivion until his mysterious death in 1970. Using original source material, it explores a riveting chapter in sports history with fresh insight and striking detail. Liston and Ali is a valuable addition to the literature about these world icons and their opponents.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Less a biography of Muhammed Ali and Sonny Liston themselves, and more of a documentation of their epic battle for the title of world heavyweight champion, Mee begins by relating as much as is known about the two legends' introduction to boxing. Liston, considered an oafish criminal with suspected mob ties, was in his early 20s serving time for robbery in Missouri State Penitentiary when Father Stevens encouraged him to try the sport. Cassius Clay, who had a slightly less volatile youth, was led to boxing by a police officer, Joseph Elsby Martin. Clay, however, remained an unpopular fighter due to his membership in The Nation of Islam, where he was renamed "Muhammad Ali" by leader Elijah Muhammad. Clay's defeat of Liston in six rounds in Miami in 1964 is a classic underdog story, as few expected him to win, and Mee details every aspect of the fight, from the weeks of training, to the blow-by-blow, to the aftermath. Their 1965 rematch fight, held in Lewiston, Maine is given similar treatment. The final pages deal briefly with the rest of the fighters' careers, including Ali having his boxing license with-drawn for draft evasion and Liston's mysterious death just after Christmas in 1969. Boxing fans will appreciate the depth of Mee's exploration of one of the most fascinating battles for the heavyweight belt of all time.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616083694
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Mee is the boxing analyst and commentator for Eurosport TV. He has previously written on boxing for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday, and Boxing News. His other books include The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing, The Heavyweights, and Bare Fists. He lives in England.
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