For me, the Muhammad Ali-vs.-Sonny Liston Lewiston fight, covered in the second part of Ken Burns’ new documentary series “Ali,” holds a personal memory.

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is lifted by happy handlers on May 25, 1965, as referee Joe Walcott steps between them and challenger Sonny Liston after Liston was knocked out in the first round of their title fight in Lewiston. Associated Press, File

On the Sunday before the May 25, 1965, fight, my father piled us into the family car and headed for the Poland Spring Resort, the site of the Liston training camp. The hard-punching fighter would be holding a public meet and greet for his fans.

We arrived at the resort and followed signs to a designated, and vacant, parking lot. We stood by the taped-off area and waited for the boxer to arrive.

Sonny Liston and one of his sparring partners slowly walked over and asked the attendant if “this was it.” The attendant looked around, shrugged and called us over.

Liston said very few words, looking down like a giant at the boy before him. He extended his mammoth hand and I reached out with both of mine in an attempt to shake it. At that moment my mom snapped a Polaroid with her new camera.

He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved a pencil and paper. He slowly drew out his name and handed it to me. Without as much as a word, Sonny looked around, then walked back to his compound. We retreated to our car and drove away.

All that remains of that moment in time is the faded photo of Sonny Liston, my father and me. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the sweet science, no fighter is going to take a beating in the ring if nobody cares.

Lew Kingsbury
Nobleboro

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