There is no official record of Sonny Liston's birth. Based on the census information and statements from Liston's mother, it is believed that Liston may have been born on July 22, 1930. His father, Tobe Liston, and his mother, Helen Baskin, had a total of 25 children (both had a previous marriage), with Sonny being the second youngest kid. They gave him very little attention, which is why his early years were extremely tough.
Liston’s father was an abusive alcoholic, often beating him and making him work even though he was very young. Sonny’s mother left the family with several children, leaving the rest of them. After his father died, Sonny decided to head to St. Louis to unite his mother. Police noticed him roaming down the streets at night and helped him find where his mother lived.