Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated

Ali wanted a shot at Liston, but Liston didn’t want to fight the brash 22-year-old. So Ali hatched a plan to get Liston to agree to a fight.

By SI Wire
June 04, 2016

Before Muhammad Ali’s rise to prominence, Sonny Liston was the most dominant boxer in the world. Liston took the heavyweight title from Floyd Patterson in September 1962 and successfully defended his belt in the rematch 10 months later.

Ali wanted a shot at Liston, but Liston didn’t want to fight the brash 22-year-old. So Ali hatched a plan to get Liston to agree to a fight.

Ali rented a bus and drove it from Chicago to Liston’s house in Denver. He told the press to be there to meet him when he arrived, with the bus covered in slogans like “Sonny Liston Will Go in Eight” and “World’s Most Colorful Fighter.”

The bus rolled up to Liston’s place at 3 a.m. and the champ came out in his pajamas to see it. He eventually agreed to a fight, which Ali would win, along with the rematch.

See each of Ali’s Sports Illustrated covers here

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