Muhammad Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle' Title Belt to sell for $1 million
Muhammad Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle' Championship Belt is expected to sell for more than $1 million when it hits the auction block in Dallas next month.
The iconic bout in Zaire saw Ali defeat George Foreman to reclaim his WBC Heavyweight Title, seven years after it had been stripped from him for refusing the Vietnam War draft.
The fight took on a wider cultural significance, as civil rights activist Ali took on the younger, stronger and much-favoured Foreman, in what's regarded as one of the greatest fights of all-time.
Just two of Ali's WBC belts are known to have survived to this day, with one in a long-term private collection and the other now offered for sale at Heritage Auctions.
It was one of the many items of Ali memorabilia kept by his long-time corner man Drew 'Burundi' Brown. When Brown passed away in 1988' leaving unpaid bills, the contents of a storage locker containing his vast collection were auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The belt was amongst these contents, but – unlike other items sold that day – it has remained off the market until now.
Although the belt is being offered with an initial estimate of $600,000+, it seems highly likely that it could fetch a seven-figure sum and set a new auction record in the process.
The current auction record for a piece of Muhammad Ali memorabilia was set back in 2014, when former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta bought Ali's gloves from his first fight against Floyd Patterson for $1.1 million.
"The historical significance of the piece, arguably the most significant boxing award ever made available at public auction, is quite simply immeasurable," said Chris Ivy, sports director at Heritage Auctions.
"Far more than just a trophy of elite athletic achievement, this belt serves as a mute witness to Muhammad Ali's undaunted pursuit of justice itself, and as a symbol of the myriad complexities of race, religion and patriotism that challenge all of us to this day.
"It is a truly priceless artefact of the American experience, and of an American life as consequential as any thus far lived."
The Heritage Auctions Muhammad Ali Platinum Catalog Auction takes place in Dallas on September 10.
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