Talk:Sonny Liston

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His wife's dream ,removed?[edit]

i read this article some time ago and it mentioned his wifes dream the night before sonnys death in it he was pleading 'geraldine help me 'where has it gone ? it was from a confirmed source ie his wife and it is relevent , i shall replace it .Bullseye30 (talk) 10:32, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

First you should learn about English capitalization, punctuation, spelling, spacing and grammar. Remember to cite a reliable source.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Senor Cuete (talkcontribs) 13:58, 4 May 2015‎(UTC)
Looks like the dream information was reliably sourced but it was removed with this edit in March 2014. I am not sure why it was removed, it is of interest and is at least as encyclopedic as the alleged police cover-up & the various Mob connections/murder-plot assertions. Shearonink (talk) 16:52, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Death Date[edit]

I don't think it's valid to list his death date as a particular day when it says it was speculated 6 - 8 days before his wife found him. It doesn't make sense to list it as December 30 if this is the case. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:36, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Except the date on his death certificate is December 30 which is why it's used the article. It's not up to us to question the coroner. See WP:V. Thanks. --Yankees76 (talk) 13:52, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes it is given that the death date is still uncertain. This is forensics in 1970 not the modern age and it says later in the article the date of death was ESTIMATED by police and given to the coroner milk bottles and papers left at the front door, the coroner did not have any investigation into the date of death. It's fine not to question the coroner but you simply have to look at the facts instead of going by what you think which is 100 percent idiotic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:02, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Again, see WP:V - it's not Wikipedia's position to provide original research. Liston's date of death on this encyclopedia reflects the date of death on his death certificate. If you have an issue with that or think it's "idiotic", please take it up with the entire community who write the policies and guidelines. --Yankees76 Talk 22:19, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Yankees76 you're clearly wrong. Original research would mean we're the ones going and estimating his death. The original research says the date of death is an estimate and thus should be treated as such, not fact. Don't like me to the same page again; I read it, it's irrelevant. The date of death was never established definitively and thus shouldn't bel isted as though it's definitive —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:05, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

You can debate your own interpretation of what WP:OR is or isn't all you want. The fact remains that it's merely your own personal position that forensics in 1970 was not reliable, and merely your own position that because the date of death on his death certificate is, to your best knowledge, an inaccurate estimate and we shouldn't use it. However because there is a permanent legal record of the fact of death of Sonny Liston which includes a legal date of death - as an encyclopedia, that's what we list as his date of death. Not someones assumption. Not a single use account anonymous Wikipedia editors interpretation of the "facts" as they perceive them. But the actual officially recorded date of death. This isn't a forum to advance conspiracy theories, or to challenge the work of professionals from 40 years ago. And if you read the article, the wording "The day of his death on his death certificate is December 30, 1970. Police estimated it by judging the number of milk bottles and newspapers at the front door.[18]" makes it pretty clear where the date is derived from and therefore why it's used in this an numerous other pieces of literature about Sonny. As a side point are you challenging the date of deaths of Layne Staley, Guy Leveque, and Kurt Cobain too? After all their dates of death are only a "coroners estimate" as well.
I'm also not entirely clear what you're hoping to accomplish here. Are you asking Wikipedia to put "on or about" in front of this date of death or that we put "Unknown" in it's place? If so, see my note above - please take it up with entire community who write the policies and guidelines, as more articles than just Sonny Liston's would be affected by such a change.--Yankees76 Talk 14:47, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Hey Yankees76, I just noticed the undo. I agree with you that the coroner's 12-30-70 date should be up top like it is. It is an official date, and the best estimate we seem to have. However, the coroner admitted it was estimated. It seems to follow reason that either circa or est. should be added before the date, correct? Tidewater 2014 (talk) 14:42, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

Can someone add "est." before the death date for the infobox? Every change I make doesn't make it look right. Thanks. Tidewater 2014 (talk) 14:45, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

Unless you can provide evidence that "est" is printed on his death certificate, adding it to Wikipedia is orginal research. The details of his death in the article explain the circumstances of his death, and his official date of death. Since it's an official date of death (and is also marked on his gravestone), Wikipedia should not be adding "estimated" or "assumed" or any other superfluous abbreviations in front of it. My post above from over 4 years ago does a good job of explaining why if you really need more detail. Also see the Wikipedia pages of Layne Staley, Guy Leveque, and Kurt Cobain for other examples of how it's properly done. Please don't insert this again. Yankees76 Talk 14:10, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Fair enough Yankees76, thank you. I asked the question back on 7-31 and waited over two weeks before making that change. Had you responded to my initial message, I wouldn't have done it. Note that this precise detail was not explained above, as the other person was trying to make it "unknown" and remove the date altogether. Tidewater 2014 (talk) 18:17, 25 August 2015 (UTC)

Yeah sorry, this page is only one of many many that show up on my feed - so I didn't see it right away and I thought there was a consensus on the issue. Either way a quick brush up on WP:OR on your part should help avoid anything like this in the future. Cheers.Yankees76 Talk 21:26, 9 September 2015 (UTC)

References to Liston's NOTORIOUS gangland connections removed[edit]

And you wonder why this article has a grade of C? Sonny Liston's contract was owned by the two most notorious gangsters (who controlled pro boxing and went to jail for it). This was documented by the FBI and the press. Sonny Liston TESTIFIED BEFORE THE U.S. SENATE in the Kefauver Committee's investigation into Mafia control of boxing, and offhandedly dismissed criticims of Blinky Palermo and Frank Carbo. Anyone with any knowledge of Liston and the fight game in the early 1960s knows what a major thing this was -- an unapologetic Mafia-connected boxer becoming heavyweight champ, the speculation that he would throw the fight, and then the two dubious losses to Clay/Ali. DOES ANYONE BOTHER TO READ, since you have no memories of the period? It's Liston's Mafia connections and the two dubious fights (Sports Illustrated ran an article after the fight in '64 answering the question was the first fight fixed, and everyone but the deaf, dumb and blind knows the second one was) that defined him, and it is left out. This article is a blot on Wikipedia.Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 01:44, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

(Angelo== Ali vs. Liston == Liston never had a proper fight with Ali he was always running away if you ask he was afraid he was tring not to serve himself embarrasment. Liston stayed on the ground for around 20 seconds How? Why? Rumors say he bet against himself because he had to give money to the Mafia He knew he couldn't beat ALi. Ali was THE Greatest. (Shabbir Bokhari)

In 'The Phantom Punch', I replaced 'toss himself off' with 'take a dive'. 'Toss himself off' is an English euphimism for 'masturbate'. Ketlan

I just watched the Liston-Ali fight and here's what happened: Sonny gets hit quite hard on the head. He stumbles around and keels over on his back. He tries getting up on one knee and almost tips over again. He finally gets up before the 10 count and the fight continues. Ali attacks aggressively and Liston is still too dazed to fight back, so the ref calls the fight. It didn't look like there was anything amiss at all. I think Sonny Liston later said he threw the fight because he was too embarassed to admit he went down in the first round like that. Anyway, I think the description should be changed to more accurately describe the knockout. As it is it minimalizes the hit by Ali, when in fact it looked like a devastating blow to the head. JettaMan April 24, 2006

He didn't get hit quite hard on the head. Ali didn't even know he hit Liston as you can see him mouthing the words later "did I hit him". Why do you think he's telling Liston to get up? It's because he knew it wasn't a loaded punch. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:37, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

"The photograph of the conclusion of this fight is one of the most famous pictures in boxing history": So the article appears to be grossly misleading: it suggests a stoppage by KO, while the special article dealing with these two fights (as well as the posting above) say there was further fighting action until the referee stopped the fight!

The sentence "It is documented that muslims from the Nation of Islam, which controlled Ali, had threatened Liston before the fight" sounds a little loony and almost certainly wrong. I removed it.

I changed "the conclusion of this obviously fixed fight" to "the conclusion of this fight" in the 'Subsequent fights' section. The possibility of a fix is discussed later in the section, and it is of course not known whether the fight was fixed or not.

I'm fairly sure that the black and white photo of Ali standing over Liston, with his arms by his sides is more famous than the one shown (although both are famous), so I think it should be the one mentioned. (talk) 20:11, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

As currently written, this section is INCREDIBLY slanted and needs serious re-writing. See this article for a more neutral, encyclopedic take on the story. DFS (talk) 21:57, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
So fix it. --Yankees76 Talk 13:04, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

My uncle was at the Lewiston fight. It was AMAZING that a fight would be held in Lewiston, which my father always said was the ---hole of the universe. My uncle was taking his seat when the fight was stopped. The crowd went crazy yelling that the fight was a fix. Most people at the time considered it a fix (as well as the first fight) as Sonny Liston was so notorious (being owned by the mafia). Sonny lvied up to the predictions that he would throw fights.Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 02:08, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

First of all, I'm not going to say much but I'm from South Philly and my father knew Angelo Dundee, Frankie Dundee, and Chris Dundee as well as being very good friends with Joe Pollino, who stood for my father during confirmation. My father also knew Blinky Palermo very well and Frankie Carbo actually had a house in Philadelphia. Joe Pollino lived and died on the 900 block of McClellan street in South Philadelphia. Our family is from the 900 block of Morris Street and the Dundees were from the 700 block of Morris Street. My grandfather trained fighters on the 700 block of Morris Street. If I remember correctly, Joe Pollino was Sonny Liston's trainer until the last few fights before the Ali fight where he was assistant trainer. Joe Pollino was in a wheel chair and could hardly speak in the last days of his life. When I was young and we went to visit him and we talked about Sonny Liston, he said, "tank, both fights, tank." He's dead so I can say it. I met Frankie Dundee (Angelo Dundee's brother) in 1983 or 1984 up Passyunk gym on Passyunk and Moore in South Philly. He was with ex fighter Tommy Forte who passed away in 2001. Tommy Forte and my father boxed together in the 30's. I don't know if Frankie is still living, but Angelo is. All I can say is that Frankie never said that the fight was a tank nor did he infer it. But I can say that he told me and Tommy Forte what his brother Angelo told Ali in between rounds to get Ali to go out and fight because Ali wanted to quit and what Frankie told us was very different than the mild version that Angelo talks about on TV. After Ali finally went out, Liston quit the next round. According to old time Philadelphia mobsters years ago in the 70's, and this is hearsay from my father, is that the first fight was supposed to go the distance and that Liston was supposed to take it easy on Ali. However, since Ali was going to quit the plan changed and they made Liston quit in the next round. Because of the problem with the first fight, they didn't want to take any chances in the second fight so they told Liston to lay down in the first round. As for the second fight, they even had Jersey Joe Walcott as the referee who was Felix Bocchicchio's fighter. Felix was Blinky's partner.

Phantom punch[edit]

The word phantom is used incorrectly. A phantom is something that is seen but has no existence or effect. Ali's punch was the opposite. It supposedly had existence and effect, but it was not seen.Lestrade 17:29, 9 April 2007 (UTC)Lestrade

Most people look at Ali's left punch, which missed Liston as he was falling from Ali preceding right punch. Ali right punch, got Liston on the left temple. It was the ankor punch (this should be added). GoodDay 20:20, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

It *is* THE Phantom Punch. That is what it was called then, and that is what it is known by. People who have no knowledge of Sonny Liston and the two Clay fights should withhold their comments.Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 01:38, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

removing material[edit]

I removed the material which said:

"If you search you may find that Moe Dalitz of the Cleveland Mob, the real godfather of Las Vegas, had an argument with Liston, when Liston called Mr Dalitz dirty names. Moe Dalitz suposedly said "One phone call and you are dead in 24 hours". After all, the death is still unsolved."

If someone wants to put something in about the Cleveland Mob and Moe Dalitz, I think it should be a little less awkwardly worded. What I mean to say is that this sounds a bit loony and less neutral than it should be. 23:38, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

The Lewiston Rematch[edit]

There is a difference between a fight being fixed and a fighter taking a dive. A fix implies participation by both camps. However, Ali was as surprised as everyone else when Liston went down and would not have been a party to such a charade.

While I personally believe that Liston took a dive (for whatever reason), the article needs to remain neutral. While it is fair to say that the bout ended in controversy, which can be backed up, we need to be careful about calling it a fiasco, a fix, an affair, or anything else along those lines. It was a controversial ending to a title fight.

We can quote the opinions of experts in the fight game, but need to be careful about making declarations one way or the other -- or injecting our own opinions. --NameThatWorks 20:00, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

My uncle was at the Lewiston fight. It was AMAZING that a fight would be held in Lewiston, which my father always said was the ---hole of the universe. My uncle was taking his seat when the fight was stopped. The crowd went crazy yelling that the fight was a fix. Most people at the time considered it a fix (as well as the first fight) as Sonny Liston was so notorious (being owned by the mafia). Sonny apparently lived up to the predictions that he would throw fights. --Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 02:08, 17 September 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shemp Howard, Jr. (talkcontribs)

Liston's D.O.B[edit]

Liston is not on the 1930 census as his siblings are, therefore he was born sometime after late 1930 and was at most 41 when he died, he could have been younger than 38. The census data was not available until recently so it was true that uncertainy as to his age added to the enigma. Whatever the year the exact date given by the officially claimed date of birth - May 8, is almost certainly incorrect becuase Liston's mother was adamant he was born in January.Overagainst (talk) 16:15, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Please review Wikipedia's policy regarding original research with regards to the addition of speculated birth dates in this article. Any dates added to Wikipedia must be attributed to a reliable source --Yankees76 Talk 17:05, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't follow how citing an internet article (Reference 2. in the article) as the reference for Liston's existence not being recorded at the time of the 1930 census is 'Personal research' (unless I was the author). it may be questioned how reliable the article's assertions are. AS FAR AS i CAN SEE THEY CHECK OUT Liston not on 1930 census Liston's father on 1930 census. It remains uncertain when he was born but in light of the above data it should be mentioned that he probably was born aprox 1931- 32 and hence was not much older than the age he officially claimed.
Again, any dates added to Wikipedia must be attributed to a reliable source - reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. This means that we only publish the opinions of reliable authors, and not the opinions of Wikipedians who have read and interpreted primary source material for themselves. --Yankees76 Talk 15:02, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
The link to the `1930 census record alleged to be Liston's father (above) is irrelevant as it is incorrect: a Charles E Liston b.1912 is given in that link, whereas Sonny's father was named Tobe and was born c.1866. Records show that Tobe Liston was 50 (and a widower father of 12) when he and 16 year old Helen Baskin moved from Mississippi to Arkansas in 1916 and they went on to have 13 children together - Sonny being penultimate. So that census link is completely wrong by the known facts. Also, Sonny's arrest record puts his birth date at closer to 1928 than 1931. Furthermore, although Sonny grew up in Sand Slough, he had no idea where he was actually born although it was certainly in that general Forrest City area. Plutonium27 (talk) 08:35, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

His arrest record date of 1928 is pure fiction. They had no way of knowing if that was his birth date if they cared to investigate staunchly. Even his mother can't remember the specific month he was born. (seeing as she had 25 children to take care of) I think the 1930 Census is the most objective piece of evidence we have. (Dcfb111, 23: 24GMT, 24 February 2011) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dcfb111 (talkcontribs) 23:25, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Dcfb111 - if you were replying to my comment, you clearly didn't read it. All the birth dates have to be "pure fiction" - as you put it - because none can be established as true. Meanwhile, the 1930 census info quoted above (para 3, unsigned but by Overagainst) which you continue to believe is the most objective piece of evidence we have does not link to Liston's father and so as evidence is useless. (It purports to identify Liston's father on 1930 census as "Charles Liston". This is not, and cannot be, Sonny's father - Tobe Liston). Of course, anyone who has access to the records can check for his father (and/or mother Helen Baskin) but there is no guarantee that all information would be present and correct regarding the family (especially juveniles), given the realities of the time and place.
Your comment about Sonny's mother isn't correct either: she repeated to contemporary writers she was sure he was born in January. They were a farming family, I am inclined to believe that even if they did not have a calendar or other marker, she would know the month by seasonal observation (and maybe because of a memorable Xmas/New year etc). (BTW I doubt she would have 25 - or anywhere near that number - of kids to look after all at the same time.!
Anyway, all we can go on is circumstantial evidence and educated guesses. Just like St Louis PD and the judiciary back in 1940s when faced with sentencing and incarcerating a young offender. Estimating age in such circumstances is not something to be taken lightly and there is no reason to suspect they did anything other than make as reliable a guess as they could based upon what they knew and were told. As for "if they cared to investigate staunchly" - what more could they do? Plutonium27 (talk) 17:58, 6 August 2011 (UTC)


Why do people keep removing the image on this page. It is the only image we have at the moment so it should remain until a better image can be sourced. Keith D (talk) 13:03, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

It looks very bad though. Surely no picture is better than teh current one? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dcfb111 (talkcontribs) 23:08, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Surely there are much more flattering images of the great champ than the one used in this article?[edit]

A brief search on Google Images, brings up several images (some of which are in the public domain), that could be used instead of the current unflattering, harrowing image used for this article.

This man encountered things most of us cannot even contemplate, during his lifetime. Wikipedia, being a venerable online information resource, can help introduce this man to a new audience. The least that can be done would be to use a photograph that would treat him with some respect and dignity, instead of making him a figure of derision and contempt - even after death.

I tried to use an alternative photograph, but could not edit the picture. Please kindly advise me on how to do this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 09:13, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

We need to have an image which is free to use and compatible with our license and we only have one at the moment. The image must be uploaded before it can be used in an article, you cannot link to an image on an external website. Keith D (talk) 13:21, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Keith D, where did you discover the present one? (from Dcfb111, 23:13 GMT, 24 February 2011)

I did not, it originated from the Finnish Wikipedia by a user there. Keith D (talk) 23:55, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Re. Patterson suffered 3rd fastest ko in BOXING HISTORY[edit]

How can this be so? It lasted over two minutes. The ref is to a dead link. Overagainst (talk) 13:08, 26 May 2011 (UTC) Also "After the fight questions were raised on whether the fight was fixed to set up a more lucrative rematch.[19]" The ref makes it clear that this was one of a number of unlikely theories which presumed that patterson had taken a dive If this is included it ought to be mentioned it was a far fetched idea. Overagainst (talk) 13:21, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Okay so fix it...the subtitle of the source says the issue was raised after the fight. Because that particular writer doesn't agree that it could have been possible, does not change the fact that it was suspected that Patterson took a dive due to the beating he took. If it was such a far fetched idea, he wouldn't have bothered to write about it. And yes at the time it was the third fastest knockout, the source says it, and some quick research shows before that fight, it was Tommy Burns knocking out Bill Squires in 1:28 and Joe Louis over Max Schmeling in 2:04. Notice it says "at the time". --Yankees76 Talk 13:39, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

It was said by a sportswriter and you would think he'd know but (after checking) it is almost certainly not true Jack Dempsey's record alone shows 3 KOs in the first minute, Overagainst (talk) 14:05, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

None of those were title fights. Ebony magazine (November 1962) also says third fastest knockout in Heavyweight championship history. [1]. --Yankees76 Talk 15:30, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
The article originally said third fastest in boxing history which was misleading. I don't think it adds anything to say it was the 3rd fastest KO in a world heavyweight bout. Just saying that it was the first time in a world heavyweight title bout that the champion had been KOed in round one is enough in my opinion. If you insist on keeping the " 3rd fastest" bit i I propose the following text - "It was the third fastest knockout in a world heavyweight title fight and the first time the champion had been knocked out in round one" Overagainst (talk) 16:23, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
The article was originally quoting what the source said, but I do like the sound of the proposed replacement, provided it's not WP:OR.--Yankees76 Talk 21:10, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
By the way, are are you aware of citation templates and ref name tags? The reason I'm asking is because it's going to take considerable work to properly cite the various books you're using as sources, while also fixing the duplicate cites (O Unlucky Man, Ebony etc.) you've added to this during your recent round of edits (not that article did that in the first place). I assume you're going to fix that when you're done? I think that's equally as important as digging up possibly misleading quotes from sportswriters... just a thought. --Yankees76 Talk 21:20, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Originally having the refs in that form allows them to be easily verified before being enshrined in the article. I appreciate the work done by people who put things into the correct format. Quotes which articulate a widely heard view among pundits show what people thought (rightly or wrongly) at the time, I try to use them without endosing any such view. Gilbert Rogin's article is very good. Overagainst (talk) 12:17, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Is this information reliable?[edit]

Regarding the Liston's birthday (currently said "unknown"), an article from highlights January 1929 as possible date : The Troubled Life And Sad Legacy Of Sonny Liston
What do you think about that ? -- Mats01 (talk) 19:27, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

That's only an estimation. We have no way of knowing what date he was born on.--TheShadowCrow (talk) 22:51, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Text from the article Sonny was probably born in 1929, but no one knows for sure., is not very convincing if presented as evidence to change it from "unknown". Unfortunately, EastSide Boxing simply takes info from the various books on Sonny and creates and article from them - the same way a high school student would if they were doing a book report. There's no new information presented.--Yankees76 Talk 23:48, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Bringing this here from Bender's talk page.
It definitely is not unknown. There are sources with birth years given. At the very least it should be c. 1930. This is the exact reason why circa and the template:circa are used for... don't know the exact year but was around this time.
It is not original research IF sources say various years between 1927-1933. There is no original research done here as it is the sources that give a range. Saying born between 1927-1933 is perfectly fine. However, I've always preferred just using circa. Bgwhite (talk) 20:21, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Date of Birth Revisted[edit]

There have been edits recently advocating using a range of years to represent Liston's date of birth[2]. My position on this is that "Circa 1927-1933" is not correct here because it's original research. The policy for which states "Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources." Because one source says it could be 1928 or 1932 and another says 1927, and a third says it might be 1933 does not make Liston's date of of birth between 1927 and 1933. It's original research to list his birth date in an encyclopedia in this manner. There are no degrees of unknown, we either know his birth date or we don't. It's not our job to "narrow down" the years through detective work by using theories postulated by various authors ranging from published Liston experts to freelance boxing writers with access to Google.
You'll notice that this detective work is not present in articles for Jake Blackmore and others in the Category:Year of birth unknown on Wikipedia, and none of them list a range of possible birth years. Their date of birth either listed as unknown, or only their place of birth and their date of death (if known and sourced) is listed. Using the argument that it is not totally unknown, like he could've been born in 1743. The range is known, only the exact date is not is flawed because the range is actually only known with a probable degree of certainty, and having a 6 year range of possible years that Liston could have been born is certainly not encyclopedic. It also leaves the article open for further edit wars based on what sources are used for the two dates. Already today, one editor has changed the date range from 1928-1932 to 1927-1933 even though no new sources were added.
In my opinion there are two options.
  • 1. Leave Liston's birthdate as "Unknown", which could also be argued as unencyclopedic but will not violate any Wikipedia policies.
  • 2. Use "c. 1932" which uses at least one authors style preference, and the year that Liston listed as his birthdate for official purposes. This leaves the date open for discussion and unsourced changes from future editors, and possible arguments over who's date theory is appropriate.
Please discuss. --Yankees76 Talk 20:25, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
It is not original research. If the sources give different years (I'm using dates here hypothetically and should not be taken as what should be used), say 1927-1933, then it is perfectly ok to say 1927-1933. This is what the sources actually say. It is original research to say the birth may not be in this range when no sources back this up. Jake Blackmore and others are a different story. There are no sources that give a birth year or how old they were when they died. If you have a death date and age at death you can narrow down the birth year to one of two years. It is a different case with Liston as sources do give births years.
As I said above, I've always preferred using circa in these cases. This is the exact reason why circa and the template:circa were created... don't know the exact year but was around this time. I've given c. 1930 as the date because this was the middle between 1927-1933.
The most common case where circa is used is when the death date and age at death is known. For Jake Blackmore, this is not the case as the age at death is not given. The category to use for deaths when circa is present is category:1930s births. Examples are Ernie Afaganis, Patricia Dineen and Fakhriya Abdel Karim. Bgwhite (talk) 21:14, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I'd be more comfortable with c. 1930 than listing a range of years. We need to be cautious and note that this isn't a case where scholars agree on the years between when (for example) Jesus could have been born. This is an unrecorded birth for which there is only speculation on a birth year. As I mentioned, even today the range grew from 4 to 6 years, and could grow further as some newspaper sources state that Liston told police in 1955 that he was 20, and the Encyclopedia Britannica lists his date of birth as May 8, 1917, and had his first fight in 1934. Having "Circa 1917-1935" would be ridiculous. --Yankees76 Talk 22:29, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I have no problems if a c. 1930 was used. I'm not as familiar with all the birth years given, so pick a year you feel is a good fit. I like the paragraph in the article on the conflicting birth years, sums it up nicele. Bgwhite (talk) 22:47, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
To be blunt, he could have been born in 1743. It's just very unlikely. Therefore, Leaving it as "Unknown" is the best choice. --TheShadowCrow (talk) 23:32, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Everybody could have been born other than their given birth date. Actresses are a good example of fudging dates. However, sources are given for Liston's birth year. You go with the sources and not do original research in thinking he could have been a 225 year old boxer. Sources say he was born around 1930. Bgwhite (talk) 00:56, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
The 1940 Census indicates a birth year of 1929 or 1930. See following section. Using it may be Original Research, so I've raised the issue on a noticeboard. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 18:57, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
I changed the ref to point to Familysearch. Familysearch gives the information in printed form, so it is easier for the normal reader to understand. It also contains a better image. Census is not original research as the information comes directly from the person, if the census form contains the right family. The census form has a an X inside a circle next to Tobbie's name, the father. This means the information on the census form comes from Tobbie. I do genealogy and have seen quite a few census forms in my day. Don't trust the spelling of the name as the census taker usually does the spelling. Other information can be wrong, depending if the census taker heard accurately, person giving the information gives it accurately, etc. Great find CheeseStakeholder. Bgwhite (talk) 20:43, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Looks good. Thanks for your help. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 21:30, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Appearance in US Census of 1940[edit]

These records have been made public this year. His family was in the 1930 census when he had not yet been born. This search brings up four collection districts for Forrest City in St Francis County of Arkansas. I have looked right through ED 62-20A and 62-20B and not been able to find the family name Liston. There are three other EDs totalling 118 images. If you can find the family name somewhere there and the mention of his age at the time that sheds more light on the birthdate question.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Alwayzgetzya (talkcontribs) 03:24, 14 June 2012‎

In ED 62-16B starting at image 22 (line 74 and 75) you see the mentions of 38yo Jack Liston and wife 32yo Irene Liston. They lived with a stepson, neice and nephew. Jack's occupation was 'share cropper'— Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnsonTownship (talkcontribs)
That enumeration district is definitely Johnson Township. I've checked and found no Liston in ED 62-16A, also Johnson Township.— Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnsonTownship (talkcontribs)
The descriptions are "ED 62-16A: JOHNSON TOWNSHIP S OF SECTION LINE FROM WHERE N LINE OF SECTION 32 TOWNSHIP 6 RANGE 4 E CROSSES ST. FRANCIS RIVER TO NW CORNER OF SECTION 34 TOWNSHIP 6 RANGE 3 E, ED 62-16B: JOHNSON TOWNSHIP N OF SECTION LINE FROM WHERE N LINE OF SECTION 32 TOWNSHIP 6 RANGE 4 E CROSSES ST. FRANCIS RIVER TO NW CORNER OF SECTION 34 TOWNSHIP 6 RANGE 3 E". Except for those two, none of the descriptions for other ED's refer to Johnson Township. All of the material for St Francis County is found here, which includes maps, descriptions and schedules.— Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnsonTownship (talkcontribs)
No, he's here [3]. See line 42 toward the top of the page. His father and mother are on the preceding page. If he was 10 in 1940, that would mean he was born in 1929, if his birth month really was May, and otherwise 1930. But I don't know how usable this is, as it is original research. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 12:46, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
I think 'unknown' is correct until there is a reliable source for what the census data means.Overagainst (talk) 18:20, 12 October 2013 (UTC)


In several places the article says Liston was known as "the big bear." Was this an actual nickname or just a taunt by Ali? HeraclitusEphesus (talk) 19:34, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

It might have been a taunt, but I'm finding many references to him as the Big Bear in Google News. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 19:40, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
To the contrary, a search of Google News for "Sonny Liston bear" (without quotes or with quotes around "Sonny Liston") produces only one such reference, a 2012 CNN article entitled "Muhammad Ali returns to the Olympic stage, once again, in London," which contains the sentence: "Despite 7 to 1 odds, the young Clay began a relentless assault of verbal attacks calling Liston 'the big ugly bear.' " Obviously this was an epithet and not a nickname. I am inclined to remove the statements in the article alleging that "the big bear" was an actual nickname of Liston (akin to "the Brown Bomber" for Joe Louis or "the Easton Assassin" for Larry Holmes) unless someone can produce a legitimate source for the alleged Liston nickname. HeraclitusEphesus (talk) 00:33, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
Check out [4], and be sure to go past the front page. You have to go into the archives. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 01:49, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
If you go to the second listing, which is the article on his Patterson match in July 1963, an AP story calls him "the Big Bear." [5]. The Ali fight, when Ali tagged him with that label, wasn't until the following year. So it seems pretty clear that Ali just picked up on Liston's preexisting nickname. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 12:53, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
Hmmmm. I'm finding references to Clay calling him "the Big Bear" early in 1963, before the Patterson fight, and nothing before that. So I think you're right that he was given that nickname by Ali. But the way the media used it, it looks like it stuck. I think we still have to use it, based on the information we have at this time. CheeseStakeholder (talk) 13:02, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Height, reach[edit]

Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography, James Curl, 2012. Page 194 "Liston stood just slightly over six feet, ... an incredibly long reach of 84” Sonny also had massive fists that measured over 15” around". The 6'1 height currently given is a rounded up figure (It rounds up Ali to 6'3). The article's long established height for Liston was 6 ft and half an inch, that is what the main boxing sites have him at too, and soI am going to put it back to that.Overagainst (talk) 21:25, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Fist Measurement[edit]

Two sources (one may have been Sports Illustrated) reported Liston's fist measurement to be 16 inches. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:28, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

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Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Sonny Liston/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Using a self-serving, non-scientific television show like "Unsolved Mysteries," especially when quoting a biased friend, to establish the so-called fact that Liston was in car accident preceding his death, when the program could easily document the fact by searching hospital and police records, is very suspect and should be viewed very skeptically.

Last edited at 12:29, 9 May 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 06:31, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

Date of birth, again[edit]

Today we are seeing "c. 1930" being used as the birthdate with a source (based on its own sources) where they make a rational determination. I'm starting this discussion so we can decide if the source is strong enough, and whether "c. 1930" or "Unknown" should be what we go with. Pinging @Brandmeister: to join in. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 14:38, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

Although per that source his mother reportedly said "I know he was born in January, in 1932. It was cold in January", the source goes on to say that "it is almost certain that he was born no earlier than July 1930". I checked whether other sources say the same. African Americans in Sports, for example, seemingly relies on his later birth certificate saying it's May 8, 1932. Perhaps "early 1930s" is safe enough to state in the lead, so "c. 1930" can be swapped. Brandmeistertalk 14:53, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
That sounds perfectly reasonable, and I'm comfortable with that, but I'm concerned by all the back-and-forth editing on this point. It would be nice to have a community decision that sticks. I don't mind you making the change you just outlined, but hopefully others will join in this discussion so we can have a long-lasting decision -- perhaps we should do an RfC? Stevie is the man! TalkWork 15:16, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

I suggest bringing it back to "Unknown" because the census and his "official" DOB aren't the only dates which have been put forth. Paul Gallendar, who is quoted a few times in this article, claims that Liston was born in 1919! Also, it says right in the article that his age was reported in the newspaper as 22 when he was arrested in 1950, which would have made his birth year 1927 or 1928. I don't think there's enough evidence to put "early 30's" or "c. 1930" in the article. Was it most likely he was born around 1930? Probably. But it's not our responsibility as editors to interpret the information in that manner. Care to discuss? Tidewater 2014 (talk) 19:06, 11 August 2016 (UTC)

No response for a while. I'll put it back to unknown if no one objects. I think that is the safest thing to do, but I'm also concerned about all the back-and-forth. Could we have a vote on this? Tidewater 2014 (talk) 19:31, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

A Request for Comment might be useful to not only get a consensus decision, but a more enforceable one. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 19:59, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

RfC: What should we list Liston's DOB as?[edit]

Thanks Stevie. All, please see my earlier comment so we could resolve this. I think Unknown is the best option due to the variety of dates that have been put forth. The census implies 1930, the "official" date was 1932, and the newspaper reporting his arrest places the DOB in 1927 or 1928. Additionally, biographer Paul Gallendar, already quoted a few times in this article, puts forth other possible dates, including 1917 and 1919. Gallendar's book came out in August 1st 2012, a few months after the 1940 census release. If we consider his book a reliable source, it seems that Unknown is the best option. That's what it should be IMO. What are your thoughts? Are some sources more reliable than others in this case, and, is it our business to distinguish them? Tidewater 2014 (talk) 17:42, 4 October 2016 (UTC)

This isn't quite in the regular RfC format per WP:RFC. Please read that page for instructions. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 18:16, 4 October 2016 (UTC)

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