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Liston: “I Feel Like When the President Got Shot”

Feb. 26, 1964 - Sonny Liston said today that he wanted to fight Cassius Clay again, but he indicated he won’t be broken-hearted if he doesn’t get to. “I’ll just forget about it,” he said.

Wearing dark glasses to hide the swelling around his eyes, with a white patch under his left eye where six stitches had been taken, and with his left arm in a sling, Liston then made what may rank as the most ludicrous statement of the year. “I don’t think Clay is as good a fighter as Floyd Patterson, Eddie Machen, or Cleveland Williams,” he said. “Patterson came to win or lost, not run and hide like he’d stole something.” Liston is apparently still under the impression that Clay was scared stiff of him. “He was as scared as a thief,” he said. Liston also apparently holds the view that his ring opponents should come in to him. Cassius, however, was much too smart for that and outboxed Sonny while on the run.

Liston said he thought he would have won if his left shoulder had not been injured. “I thought I could catch up with him by beating him around the body,” he said. Liston maintained that he had wanted to continue but was overruled by his seconds. These are the same men who were too terrified to raise their voices in his presence in the past. He said they told him to raise his left and jab. “I can’t,” he told them. He didn’t put up much of an argument when they advised him they were going to stop it.

Sonny says it happened in the first round. “The whole glove felt like it was full of water. When I raised my arm, it was like it was lead in my glove.” Earlier, Jack Nilon, Liston’s trainer had said the injury happened during training. The injury had not been disclosed.

Regarding Clay’s claim that he couldn’t see at all in the fifth round, Liston offered the view that it was greatly exaggerated. “Apparently, he could see all right,” scoffed Sonny. “He stayed away from me.”

“How do you feel about losing the title?” he was asked. “I feel like when the President got shot,” was the reply.


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