Sonny Liston Chemicals in Ali eyes

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by shadow111, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. shadow111

    shadow111 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    During Ali’s (as Cassius Clay) first fight with Sonny Liston how do you view the incident during the match when Ali was blinded by chemicals that were put on Sonny Liston’s gloves in between rounds?

    Often I think about what would have happened if the burning would have been so bad that the fight had to be stopped. What if the referee called for a Doctor and looked into Ali’s eyes today and saw them be red and said “nope he can’t continue we need to stop the fight”?

    It’s amazing that Ali was blinded like that, but was able to somehow avoid punches until the chemicals were out of his eyes. Had Liston been able to connect again, with the chemicals still on his gloves, it could have caused more chemicals to get in the eye and caused Ali even more distress!

    Are there any experts on the subject? Did we know if Sonny Liston knew what was put on the gloves or was it a rogue cornerman that did so on his own. This might be one of the craziest things to happen inside a boxing ring, especially one of that magnitude. I’d like to know more about this story and if Liston and his camp were punished. More importantly, given how suspect the 2nd fight was in Lewiston Maine, just the fact that it was in Lewiston Maine to begin with, did this incident play a role in what happened in the 2nd fight. (Liston staying down and being rumored to stay down when he could have gotten up)

    It just seemed to me like this incident played a huge role in the outcomes of both the fights and the trajectory of Liston’s career from that point on. I guess I’m trying to understand what really happened, and if Liston himself had anything to do with the chemicals being put on during the match. I know there were many documentaries on Ali - Liston but did any of them really figure out all the details of the chemicals incident in the first fight?
     
  2. Mendoza

    Mendoza Hrgovic = Next Heavyweight champion of the world. Full Member

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    A few fighters complained about burning eyes in Liston matches.
     
  3. mcvey

    mcvey Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    We don't even know IF chemicals were put on his gloves ,it could have been the oil of wintergreen liniment that was applied to his injured shoulder that caused the problem with Ali's eyes.Just as liekley it could have been from the Monsels Solution that Joe Pollino applied to Listons cuts.
     
  4. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I still haven't seen proof that Liston or his corner did this.
    The most likely explanation is some mistake made in Ali's own corner.
     
  5. mcvey

    mcvey Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    No not a few Eddie Machen that's it.
     
  6. kingfisher3

    kingfisher3 Boxing Addict Full Member

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    i was about to write something similar about liniment, not that we'll ever know but that seems just as likely as anything deliberate.
     
  7. shadow111

    shadow111 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    OK this is the type of response I was trying for. Basically, what your saying is Liston’s corner was using the oil of wintergreen liniment to Liston’s injured corner in between rounds, and that maybe dripped onto his gloves and then got into his eyes when Liston punched Ali? I’ll have to take another look because Liston didn’t land too much but that perhaps the liniment inadvertently got into Ali’s eyes.

    In the post fight “I must be the Greatest” interview in the ring Ali did say he thought it was liniment got into his eyes. I guess the question is : was it intentional by the Liston Camp, was it an act of desperation after they saw Clay winning rounds and befuddling Liston?

    From your post, it appears that you are aren’t sure if it was intentional or not. Was any investigations into it ever made clear as to what happened? I guess the other thing about it is were you surprised that the referee didn’t stop the fight, at least to check Ali’s eyes? If there was liniment in Ali’s eyes, if the referee just called timeout to check he could probably smell the wintergreen on Ali’s face?

    I mean something like this (intentional or not) is really grounds for a No Contest isn’t it? However, had their been a No Contest, then the public would probably have viewed it as Liston stopping Clay and Clay complaining or being a “sore loser” right or “making excuses” right. (seriously…)

    Maybe if it was stopped and ruled a NC, then Liston probably wouldt have lost his title. Who knows maybe he’d call Clay a complainer and refuse to grant him a rematch. And Liston would go on to be a long reigning champion. Instead we had all these conspiracy theories of what happened, and the rematch had to be in a rural place like Lewiston Maine of all places. The whole thing is just kinda crazy if you think about it! Boxing was so different back then, nowadays the ref would stop the fight, and possibly disqualify the corner for having liniment on the gloves.
     
  8. Berlenbach

    Berlenbach Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Angelo Dundee thought it was liniment. It may also have been Monsel's Solution which they were using on Liston's cuts. I'm yet to see any convincing proof that this was an attempt by Liston and/or his team to cheat.

    I've watched the Liston-Machen bout numerous times and I've never found the part where Machen appears to be blinded.
     
  9. shadow111

    shadow111 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    OK but these things cannot be used in corners now right. I mean as a result of this obviously there must have been more focus on what substances cornermen can apply to fighters between rounds. Certainly nothing with a burning sensation that could possibly get into the opponents eyes.

    Was Liston’s corner ever interviewed about this? It just seems amazing to me that over 50 years later we still don’t know what really happened, if it was intentional or not. How did Liston’s corner escape media scrutiny about this?
     
  10. mcvey

    mcvey Boxing Junkie Full Member

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  11. kingfisher3

    kingfisher3 Boxing Addict Full Member

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    if it was on liston's shoulder then it needn't have been on the gloves, just transferred to ali's face in a clinch.

    i've got no experience with that specific product, but in general that stuff doesn't need to actually be in your eye, just in the area. that's one of the reasons i think it might be that, i've got it on my face via the pillow and it burned then went away after i washed my face.
     
  12. mcvey

    mcvey Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I have an open mind on it. Angelo Dundee did not think there was any intentional wrong doing. Something similar happened in the first Walcott v Marciano fight.

    Monsels Solution has been banned for years, that doesn't stop corners from using it if they can get away with hit.Saad Muhammad 's ,[ Matt Franklin as was ,] corner used it to seal the cuts in his first fight with John Conteh and it was illegal then.
    How would you prove liniment had been intentionally applied to gloves unless you caught a cornerman putting it on between rounds?
     
  13. Mendoza

    Mendoza Hrgovic = Next Heavyweight champion of the world. Full Member

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    Nino Valdes also complained. So its Ali, Machen and Valdes.
     
  14. shadow111

    shadow111 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I guess what amazes me the most about the whole thing is that (apparently?) Liston’s corner was never pressed about it by the sports media. In today’s day and age, it would be unfathomable for something like that to happen and the corner never get pressed about it?

    It seems to me like that Liston’s corner should have been asked about it after the fight, or in the buildup to the rematch. Perhaps there were but it was just underreported? This is not exactly my area of expertise but it’s something that’s always fascinated me and it adds a lot to the aura of Ali’s greatness. To be able to be blinded by a burning in his eyes but still be able to dance around and make Liston miss until the burning cleared out is unforgettable.

    If oil of wintergreen liniment were being used to treat Liston’s (allegedly) injured shoulder during the match, if that were the case, then how do you explain Machen’s quote where he said his eyes burned during his fight vs Liston?

    That sounds very familiar to what happened to Clay in Miami Beach. However that fight was over 3 years before he fought Clay. Do we knew if Liston’s shoulder was injured then, too? The thing about the Eddie Machen fight is that was the most rounds Liston ever went in a fight and the only time he went more than 10 rounds (a 12 round decision in this case) in his entire career. The fact that not only did Machen go the distance in that fight, but that Liston was penalized three points for low blows during that fight screams “an act of desperation” from Liston.

    I mean seriously, just look at these two fights and compare them to the rest of Liston’s career. Aside from the few 10 round decisions he had early in his career, and one 10-round decision late in his career, I mean most of his fights were early or middle round KO. Machen and Clay though were able to actually go rounds with Liston, and it would be in a situation like that to where Liston or his corner might have gotten more desperate. Certainly getting deducted 3 points for low blows is evidence of at least some frustration.

    On the other hand, I guess you could say well maybe those fights is where Liston’s shoulder was aching more and maybe he needed to be treated for it more. But it still doesn’t explain how that shouder treatment got into the eyes. I’ll have to watch the Machen and see if Liston is being treated for an alleged shoulder injury or something.

    Anyone who could shed more light on this unsolved boxing mystery would be greatly appreciated.
     
  15. LittleRed

    LittleRed Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I think the most convincing evidence that Liston was not doing it on purpose is that he doesn't really go after Ali when he's blind. He spends the first half of the round fighting like the previous round until he realizes that Ali is somehow injured. But by that point Ali could see and Liston missed his chance.

    If Liston knew that his opponent was blinded, surely he would have gone for a finish.
     
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