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 sixteen-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.