Racial profiling of Philadelphia 1960s boxing champ Sonny Liston | RopSport
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Racial profiling of Philadelphia 1960s boxing champ Sonny Liston


“I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia.”

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Boxing and Philadelphia go hand-in-hand, and not just because of Hollywood.

Joe Frazier is probably the best-known local champ, but over the past half-century the city produced many others. One of the asterisks on the list is Sonny Liston — partly because he only lived in Philly for about five years.

His time in Philadelphia culminated soon after he won the world heavyweight title in 1962, a goal he achieved after growing up in poverty and spending time behind bars. But people in power (reportedly including JFK) were fearful of Liston’s “bad boy” reputation, and he treated with little respect.

Those holding him in a negative light included the “Park Guards,” aka the police force patrolling Fairmount Park, who arrested him more than once.

This thread tells the tale of a champion whom Philadelphia profiled instead of celebrated, leading to his departure for a different city.





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