Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston is one of the most perplexing characters in the history of boxing. One of twenty-five children, Sonny was working in the fields by the time he could walk, and in jail by the time he turned twenty. No one knows the day Liston was born, or the day he died, and it is said that Liston himself spent his whole life searching for identity. Through his short, turbulent career, Liston was a man heralded as a greater fighter than Joe Louis, and then denounced as the shame of boxing. Sometimes he is cast as the victim of a group of powerful mobsters and of his circumstances, and in other tellings - as Muhammad Ali put it, years later - “Liston was the devil.”

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