Heavyweight boxing legend, Mike Tyson, has named the ‘baddest man’ that boxing has ever produced.
After holding a reputation of his own as a vicious puncher and a ruthless, destructive champion, ‘Iron’ Mike’s experience and extensive knowledge of the sport means his opinion is as good as any.
Tyson’s rise through the ranks and eventual reign as champion in the 1980’s is remembered as one of the most impressive spells in heavyweight history. At the time, he carried an aura of invincibility. Many feel he intimidated his opponents into defeat before they even stepped through the ropes.
In an episode of his podcast, despite his own reputation, Tyson believes the ‘baddest man’ ever in boxing was Sonny Liston,
“Nobody thought that [Muhammad Ali] was going to last two rounds with [Sonny] Liston. They didn’t think he was going to last two rounds.
The baddest man that boxing ever produced, I mean the meanest motherf***er, he went like this [stuck two fingers up to claim that he would knock Ali out in the second round], and Ali beat his a**, he made him quit.”
Liston was an enigma when he rose to the peak of the sport, with no official record of his birth and little to show from his youth other than scars from being whipped as a child. After turning to crime and eventually being sent to prison, Liston decided to go straight and pursue a career in boxing, using his fighting skills as a means of work rather than hustling.
Liston’s gangster reputation followed him as he moved into the professional ranks and, coupled with his ability in the ring, made him a man to avoid. Liston would go on to win the world title with a first-round knockout over Floyd Patterson in 1964, before losing to Ali in that shock defeat in the following fight.