Sonny Liston Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Sonny Liston Net Worth 

Sonny Liston had an estimated net worth of $20 million at death. Sonny Liston was introduced to boxing while serving time in a Missouri State Penitentiary. He became a professional fighter in 1953. He earned most of his income from his career as a professional boxer. 

From 1953 to 1970, Sonny Liston had a contentious boxing career, winning 54 of 58 fights. The majority of his victories were knockouts, owing to his powerful punch. He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, around December 30, 1970.

To calculate the net worth of Sonny Liston, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Sonny Liston
Net Worth: $20 Million
Monthly Salary: $80 Thousand+
Annual Income: $1.5 Million
Source of Wealth: Professional boxer

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Early Life

On May 8, 1932, boxer Charles L. “Sonny” Liston was born in St. Francis County, Arkansas. (There is some debate about his birth year, but most sources place it between 1929 and 1932.) Liston was the 24th of his father’s 25 children, the son of tenant farmer Tobey Liston and his second wife, Helen. Liston grew up in the local cotton fields with his many siblings. Liston’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and he eventually left the house when he was in his teens.

He quickly ran into problems with the local cops in St. Louis. Liston—over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds—became a menacing presence in his neighborhood at the age of 16, occasionally working as a strike-breaking labor goon.

Liston was arrested at least 20 times. He was sentenced to more than two years in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City after being convicted of two counts of larceny and two counts of first-degree robbery in 1950. While incarcerated, Liston was introduced to boxing by prison athletic director Father Alois Stevens.

Boxing Success

Liston, who was imprisoned in 1952, quickly won the local Golden Gloves championship. On September 2, 1953, he became a professional fighter when he knocked out Don Smith in a single round in St. Louis. Fortunately for him, the massive man known as “The Bear” won his first nine fights before losing an eight-round decision to Marty Marshall.

Liston’s career was cut short for nine months in December 1956, when he was sentenced to the St. Louis workhouse for assaulting a police officer and stealing his gun. Following his release, Liston relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his career quickly rebounded.

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Historical Win, Controversial Persona

Liston won 26 consecutive fights, en route to the heavyweight championship. He was known for scowling at opponents and combining an intimidating ring presence with incredible power. His heavyweight title-winning victory on September 25, 1962, exemplified his powerful style: he knocked out Floyd Patterson in less than two minutes, marking the first time in history that a reigning heavyweight champion was counted out in the first round.

As the world’s best fighter, Liston became an easy target for sports columnists, who frequently remarked not only on his menacing demeanor and vicious punching power, but also on his criminal background. Liston, who had a career record of 50 wins, 4 losses, and 39 knockouts, relished the role of the fighter America despised.

Defeat to Cassius Clay

Liston knocked Patterson out again in a rematch, but his 17-month reign as heavyweight champion ended at the hands of a brash fighter named Cassius Clay. Liston, who had been considered nearly invincible prior to the fight, was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay (later to be known as Muhammad Ali) was named champion on February 25, 1964.

The infamous “phantom punch” was used in the rematch with Clay on May 25, 1965. Though Liston appeared to have been grazed by Clay’s right fist, the boxer was knocked out one minute and 45 seconds into the first round. Some believed the fight was staged, as reported in later biographical works such as Nick Tosches’ The Devil and Sonny Liston (2000).

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Comeback and Death

Following his defeat to Clay in 1966, Liston launched a comeback. He won 11 straight fights by knockout in 1968 and three more in 1969 before losing to Leotis Martin in a brutal match. On June 29, 1970, he returned to the ring and defeated “Bayonne Bleeder” Chuck Wepner with a 10th-round technical knockout.

Geraldine Liston returned to their Nevada home on January 5, 1971, after being unable to contact him for 12 days, and discovered Liston’s body. Although Liston had fresh needle marks on his arm and police discovered heroin and a syringe in the house, the official cause of death was lung congestion and heart failure. Based on milk deliveries at his door, his death certificate states that he died on December 30, 1970. Liston was laid to rest beneath a simple gravestone at Paradise Memorial Gardens in Las Vegas, Nevada. “A Man,” his epitaph reads.

Further Reading

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