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

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

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by Bob Mee
     
 

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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

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.

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.
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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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Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MinTwinsNY 3 months ago
Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Charles “Sonny” Liston took very different paths to arrive at the heavyweight championship fight that took place on February 25, 1964 in Miami. What the two men did to reach this point in their boxing careers and their lives is captured in this engrossing book by boxing analyst Bob Mee. The research is through and the writing detailed as the reader will learn much about both men, especially Liston as it is universally accepted that he was a very complex character and that the truth about many parts of his life was hard to confirm. Not only does Mee cover Liston’s boxing and his criminal past, there is also coverage of the alleged ties to organized crime that constantly dogged Liston during his boxing days. While there are some books and publications that cover his life more thoroughly, Mee does a credible job of explaining Liston’s life and personality. He also does the same for Ali, but does not go into the detail that many other sources do as Ali’s life has been chronicled many other times in all forms of media. The writing about Ali is slightly less detailed and covers more of his life in shorter chapters, but still is a good source of information for the casual boxing fan. Just like the writing about the darker aspects of the Liston’s life, the writing about Ali’s involvement with the Nation of Islam and his brash personality is informative and detailed if not revealing new information that hasn’t been reported in other sources. The book is more about the lives and management of the two men than it is about the actual fights in Miami and Lewistown, Maine. The questions about Liston’s injury in the first fight and the very quick knockdown in the second fight are covered in an objective manner and Mee shows no bias or gives a strong opinion about either of these controversies. The reader will have to make his or her own conclusions from the information given. This is a book well worth the time to read if one wants to learn more about these two fighters. If the reader has read other books on them, especially Ali, there won’t be a lot of new information, but Mee does present a fresh view of the fighters and the two bouts that is both informative and entertaining.