DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Charles L. “Sonny” Liston (unknown – December 30, 1970) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1953 to 1970. A dominant contender of his era, he became the world heavyweight champion in 1962 after knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round, repeating the knockout the following year in defense of the title; in the latter fight he also became the inaugural WBC heavyweight champion. Liston was particularly known for his toughness, formidable punching power, long reach, and intimidating appearance.
DEATH: Liston was found dead by his wife, Geraldine, in their Las Vegas home on January 5, 1971. On returning home from a two-week trip, Geraldine had smelled a foul odor emanating from the main bedroom and on entering saw Sonny slumped up against the bed, a broken foot bench on the floor. Authorities theorized that he was undressing for bed when he fell over backward with such force that he broke the rail of the bench. Geraldine called Sonny’s attorney and his doctor, but did not notify the police until two to three hours later.