The gloves worn by both Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in the famous May 25, 1965 “Phantom Punch” bout in Lewiston, ME sold for $956,000 Saturday in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night sports auction in New York.
They had been consigned to auction by Los Angeles collector Seth Ersoff, who acquired the pair from the family of the boxing commissioner for the state of Maine in 1965. The gloves had been seized after the bout’s scandalous end – Ali’s “Phantom Punch” – just under two minutes into the first round.
The buyer, and advanced collector, has chosen to remain anonymous, according to Heritage.
“These gloves are among the most important pieces of memorabilia to ever come to market,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, “The drama and outrage that swirled around the Ali-Liston fights were a microcosm of America’s growing pains of the mid-1960s.”
The rematch was the first time that Muhammad Ali stepped into the ring as Muhammad Ali; not only had he just officially changed his name, the fight and everything that happened around it – beginning to end – put Ali on the path to superstardom.
The moment of the fight is best captured in the famous Neil Leifer photograph and the cover shot of the 1999 Sports Illustrated retrospective “The Century’s Greatest Sports Photos.”
More than $9.8 million worth of memorabilia changed hands during the evening.
Fourteen items sold for well over six figures during the auction including the bat used by Babe Ruth for his 57th and record-breaking 59th home runs in 1921, including a letter from Ruth to the recipient. The lot sold for $717,000.
A jersey attributed to Sandy Koufax in 1955 sold for $573,600, a 1938 Mel Ott New York Giants shirt sold for $334,600 and a 1954 Mickey Mantle game-used road jersey realized $406,300.
The 1940s Vince Lombardi Army coaching sweater bought at a North Carolina thrift store last year for 58 cents sold for $43,020 after garnering national attention.
he baseball glove that 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter’s 1996 ALCS Game One home run ball, robbing right fielder Tony Tarrasco of the catch and propelling the Yankees to a still disputed victory, lighting the spark for the modern Yankees dynasty – sold for $22,705 to an anonymous bidder.