The trunks Muhammad Ali wore in what’s considered by most to be one of the greatest boxing matches ever are going on the auction block. The famous white Everlast trunks donned by Ali in his epic 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” win over Joe Frazier have been consigned to Robert Edward Auctions.
The story is something out of Storage Wars. Saved by Ali’s assistant trainer and friend Drew “Bundini” Brown following the fight, the trunks were kept in Brown’s storage facility in California until 1988, several months after Brown died and the rent on the unit became delinquent. Sold at auction for $650, they were eventually consigned to Sotheby’s where they sold in 2002 for $58,000.
Carrying an Ali autograph and Brown’s crude felt tip labeling, they’re about to go back on the block in REA’s upcoming annual auction. It’s likely the final price will be much higher than the $25,000 reserve. Ali’s trunks from his first duel with Frazier, the “Fight of The Century” in 1971, sold late last year via SCP Auctions for $173,192. That bout was Ali’s first professional loss. Ali won a second bout with the late Frazier in 1974, setting up the third and final collision between the two greatest heavyweights of the era.
According to the auction house, the trunks have been photo-matched and video matched and were even pictured and identified in the 35th anniversary edition of Sports Illustrated, published on November 15, 1989 with Ali on the cover.
They have been kept in a framed wall display measuring 34 x 28 inches and carry an accompanying two-page letter of authenticity from noted boxing expert Craig Hamilton who believes the Ali signature was added sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s.
An “Everlast” label appears on the front of the waistband that is further lettered “Made Expressly for Muhammad Ali.” Period black-marker notations (presumably in Bundini’s hand) appear on each leg. The writing on the right leg reads “Ali-Frazier Fight/Trilla in Manilla,” while the writing on the opposite leg reads “Pres. F. Marcos/Manila, Philippines/Oct 1, 1975.” Marcos, the Philippine president at the time, hosted the event.
The fight generated tremendous media attention beforehand, but it was one of the rare sports occasions when the event turned out to surpass the hype.
Ali taunted Frazier in the weeks with insults leading up to their encounter, eventually uttering the famous line, “It’s gonna be a thrilla, and a chilla, and a killa, when I get the Gorilla in Manila.” Frazier, who had supported Ali during his fight with the government over the military draft and long absence from the sport, took the insults personally.
The two men fought an exhaustive 14-round bout before Frazier’s corner ended the bout just before the bell for the 15th.
“I always bring out the best in the men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I’ll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me,” Ali said afterward. “I’m gonna tell ya, that’s one helluva man and God bless him.” Ali also said the fight, “Was like Death. Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.”
Frazier told reporters: “Man I hit him punches that’d bring down the walls of a city. Lawdy, Lawdy, he’s a great champion.”