It was one of the more bizarre sports stories of the 1960s. A much-anticipated rematch between the two biggest names in boxing shut down by a district attorney over concerns that the promoters were connected to organized crime and moved to, of all places, Lewiston, ME.
Now, a poster for the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight that was to take place at Boston Garden—is going on the auction block. Rare by itself, the poster also contains a light but large autograph of Liston, whose signature on anything is uncommon. It’s expected to sell for more than $15,000.
Auction officials say they have never encountered another autographed poster from the fighter known as The Big Bear.
In February of 1964, Ali (then Cassius Clay) had shocked Liston in Miami Beach, a fight named as the fourth greatest sporting event of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. The world clamored for a rematch and got one in 1965.
Suffolk County District Attorney Garrett Byrne filed for an injunction to block the fight but promoters opted to pull the fight out of Boston. A junior hockey rink in Lewiston became the new site. However, promotional material had already begun circulating in Boston, however and the 22×28” poster being offered by Heritage Auctions in its current catalog is one such item.
How or when the autograph was obtained isn’t known. Liston’s ink signature is below the word “Garden”. The former champ, who died December 30, 1970, is considered one of the toughest autographs of any major American athlete active after the Second World War, according to auction officials. Both PSA/DNA and James Spence Authentication have issued letters of authenticity.
The poster itself, printed on midweight card stock, has some slight edge and corner wear, but remains in generally good condition.
Bidding in the May Sports Collectibles Auction is now underway and continues until May 4.