Ali and Liston is devoted to one of the most closely watched fights in boxing history, the 1964-1965 battle for the World Heavyweight Championship. Author Bob Mee delves deep into the backgrounds of the two men in the ring, Charles "Sonny" Liston and Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., the one a notoriously tough fighter with underworld connections, the other a scrappy youngster who would later become known as Muhammad Ali. Drawing on extensive source material and with an eye for cultural history, Mee examines the family backgrounds of both men, their path to the championship ring, and the diverging fates that followed. Performer Gildart Jackson's mellifluous British tones are a treat to hear, and if at times seem odd for the American tale, they are well suited to the background of the author.
Three months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, prizefighters 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. Instead of a hero and a villain, boxing had served up two bad guys.
Against a backdrop of political instability, of a country at war with itself and marred by unspeakable acts of violence against African Americans, Liston and Clay sought out their own individual destinies. Ali and Liston follows the contrasting paths these two men took, from their backgrounds in Arkansas and Kentucky through to that 16-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 living as he had begun, on the outside, until his premature, mysterious death in 1970. Using original source material, Ali and Liston explores a riveting chapter in sports history with fresh insight and striking detail.