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The Reigning Champ Surrenders His Belt to The Louisville Lip!1964 Sonny Liston Fight Worn Trunks from the First Clay/Ali Bout. "I shook up the world!" a jubilant Clay shouted above the roar of the stunned crowd, a cast of over eight thousand who had packed the Miami Beach Convention Center on February 25, 1964 to watch the brash young Gold Medalist learn a thing or two about suffering from Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston. Of the forty-six sportswriters on hand to cover the bout, just three had picked Clay to score the upset, the others certain that the twenty-two year old phenom would wilt under Liston's sledgehammer attack. "I shook up the world!" Clay shouted again. "Eat your words," he instructed the journalists working feverishly at their notepads. "I'm pretty! I'm a bad man!" Across the ring, the deposed former Champion remained seated on his stool where he had signaled his surrender with a failure to answer the bell to start the seventh round. Bloodied from a cut under his left eye and complaining of a shoulder injury, Liston spit out his mouthpiece and hung his head, looking down at his own embroidered name on the left leg of the white Everlast boxing trunks presented here.
Sonny Liston's two meetings with Muhammad Ali rank among the most famous and most controversial in boxing history, with Liston's well-established associations with the criminal underworld fueling those conspiracy theories, as well as the contention that his death from a December 1970 drug overdose had been homicide. The chalk outline of Liston's body remained on the floor of his home when his friend, UNLV middle linebacker Bruce Gray and his friend and trainer Davey Pearl entered Liston's house to claim his personal property before the authorities padlocked the premises. Gray began to shovel the boxing memorabilia into two of Liston's trunks. "I told Sonny to pay those people their money," Pearl told him. "He owed gambling debts to the mob. This was no accident."
The circumstances of Sonny Liston's death, like his surrender in Clay I and the Phantom Punch in Clay II, will likely remain unsolved mysteries, topics for debate among students of boxing history. There is no debate, however, as to the importance or authenticity of this offering, the uniquely scripted embroidery, the black trim on white satin, the dimensions of the garment all a perfect match to fight film and photography. They show fine, sweaty use from six punishing rounds in south Florida, with some small black stains on verso from storage. The "Everlast" label at waistband is slightly faded with age, with some loosening of the stitching at the top seam. The trunks make their second auction appearance within this Platinum Night event, consigned the first time by Mr. Gray, who had owned them since the day of Liston's passing. His notarized letter of provenance is included. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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