The first Muhammad Ali heavyweight title belt ever to come to auction sold for $358,500 late Saturday night. The belt was one of 79 high-end Ali-focused lots sold in the special event launched by Heritage Auctions late last month. The WBC began awarding belts in 1976 and it’s likely Ali received it during the midway point of his three-plus year reign as champion.
Ali had won the belt by beating George Foreman in Zaire, a fight known as the “Rumble in the Jungle” and the trunks he wore that day were also in the auction, selling for $143,400. All prices include a 20% buyer’s premium.
Another item that stretched into six figures was a 1964 hand-written letter that served as the first confirmation of his conversion to Islam. The 6×9″ lined page, torn from a spiral notebook and signed “Cassius Clay”, was the result of a request by the editors at Life Magazine who refused to acknowledge the news without personal confirmation from the famous fighter. Amazingly, it was written the same February 1964 day the Beatles stopped by Ali’s Miami training camp and posed for the playful photographs that remain well-known today.
Among the other auction highlights:
- Ali gloves from 1972 fight with Floyd Patterson $89,625
- Sonny Liston gloves from first Ali fight $77,675
- Ali robe from 1978 fight with Leon Spinks $65,725
- Ali boxing shoes from 1976 fight with Ken Norton $50,19o