Year: 1950 Crime: Robbery
While not technically a "comeback," Liston formulated his career in the joint.
Born into a life of poverty, with an abusive dad, he quickly dropped out of school and pursued a life of crime. Liston was the leader of a gang that committed muggings and armed robberies. St. Louis police knew him as the "Yellow Shirt Bandit." When he was caught (presumably in a yellow shirt) he was sentenced to five years in the Missouri State Penitentiary.
While Liston claimed to enjoy the guaranteed meals of prison, he was paroled early after receiving good word from both the priest and prison's athletic director. His amateur career lasted less than a year and, with a reach longer than his height, Liston quickly climbed the pro ranks. After beating up a police officer he started to get the reputation amongst the public of a "monster." Being black in the '50s probably didn't help either.
The notoriety made it difficult for Liston to get a shot at the title. In 1960, as the No. 1 contender, Liston couldn't secure a fight against champ Floyd Patterson due to his links to organized crime. Neither the NAACP, nor President Kennedy, wanted Liston beating Patterson out of fear that it would hurt the Civil Rights movement. When the fight went down in September 1962, Liston won it in the first round. In the rematch, Liston won again, but it took him four seconds longer to do it.
Eventually Liston got his ass smashed in twice by Muhammad Ali. While the beating ended his heavyweight reign it was still inspirational to convicts everywhere that he lasted 16 months with the heavyweight belt. He passed away in 1970 with his gravestone simply reading "A Man."