Muhammad Ali's 'Fight of the Century' gloves could top $1 million at auction



2016-07-12 14:48:44

Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves from his 'Fight of the Century' against Joe Frazier could be about to sell for more than $1 million.

The gloves will be offered by Goldin Auctions in an online sale of sports memorabilia which takes place on August 4.

The 1971 championship bout at New York's Madison Square Garden was a major cultural event, and has been described as "one of most hyped and politicized boxing matches of all time".

It was billed as a symbolic battle between the left-wing anti-establishment (Ali) and the conservative establishment (Frazier), and marked the first time two previously undefeated boxers had ever met to decide the heavyweight title.

It was Ali's first chance to reclaim the belt that was stripped from him back in 1966, when he refused the military draft for the Vietnam War, but in Frazier he came up against a fighter at the peak of his powers.

With the ringside seats filled with celebrities, and millions watching on TV around the world, Frazier dominated Ali and won in 15 rounds via a unanimous decision. It would be another three years before Ali won the rematch, in a fight which then set up the historic Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in Zaire.

The gloves originate from the personal collection of Ali's longtime trainer Angelo Dundee, who cut them from Ali's hands after the fight and kept them for forty years.

The pair of gloves has crossed the auction block twice in recent years – first at SCP Auctions in December 2012, when they realized $385,848, then again at Heritage Auctions in August 2014, where they sold for $388,375.

Now, following Ali's death in June 2016 following a long battle with Parkinson's, the gloves are heading to auction once more – this time with a pre-sale estimate of more than $1 million.

"Ali was an innately kind, spiritual man who successfully juxtaposed a gentle persona with that of a fierce, indomitable warrior," said a spokesperson for the auction house.

"He was a courageous activist who possessed the uncommon ability to transcend boundaries in order to be heard and believed. Above all, he was one-of-a-kind, and the gloves offered here are elemental to his legacy."

The current record price for a piece of Muhammad Ali memorabilia was set in 2014, when Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Lorenzo Fertitta paid $1.1 million for the gloves Ali wore in November 1965, in his first title defence against Floyd Patterson in Las Vegas.

The historic gloves are currently on display in London, as part of the 'I Am The Greatest: Muhammad Ali' exhibition at the O2, and will be available to the winning bidder in September 2016.

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