Sonny Liston (Charles Liston), 1932–71, American boxer, b. Little Rock, Ark. While serving a sentence for robbery at the Missouri State Penitentiary, Liston became interested in boxing. In 1953 he began his professional fighting career. A hard-hitting heavyweight, he became (Sept., 1962) the world's heavyweight champion after a crushing first-round knockout of Floyd Patterson. He defended his championship in 1963, knocking out Patterson once again, before losing his title to Muhammad Ali in 1964. Losing his return match with Ali in 1965, Liston began a comeback in 1966. His lifetime record was 50 victories (39 knockouts) and 4 losses.
See biography by N. Tosches (2000).