Muhammad Ali’s Championship Belt Sells for $6M

The boxer’s 1974 championship belt from “Rumble in the Jungle” sells for $6.18 million at an auction

George Foreman (left) trying to hit Muhammad Ali (right) during the October 30, 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match. Photo courtesy of El Gráfico.

Muhammad Ali’s belt from the 1974 heavyweight boxing championship dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle” was sold for a whopping $6.18 million at an auction. Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL Indianapolis Colts, won the auction, and is now the proud owner of an artifact of boxing history. Based on Irsay’s tweet, it seems that the belt will soon be available for public viewing through his collection of rock music, American history and pop culture artifacts. “Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when he employed his rope-a-dope and defeated George Foreman—-just added to @IrsayCollection  Just in time for the Aug. 2 show at Chicago’s Navy Pier (and Sept. 9 at Indy). Proud to be the steward!” the new owner wrote in a tweet. Heritage Auctions, the auction house that brokered the belt’s sale, said the belt’s $6.18 million price is the highest ever for any sports collectible it has sold. “After several hours of watching two bidders go back and forth over this belt, this proved to be a battle worthy of the Rumble itself,” Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, said in a press release. “We’re just thrilled this extraordinary piece of boxing history — of sports history, of cultural history — found such an exceptional caretaker who will now share it with the rest of the world.”

Muhammad Ali won the October 30, 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” match with a knockout in the 8th round. His win as the heavyweight champion at the time, was historic. It symbolized the boxer’s vindication as he was stripped of his championship title, and suspended from professional boxing after he refused to be conscripted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ali cited that the war was incompatible with his Islamic faith. For that, he was further sentenced for five years, and fined $10,000 in 1967. However, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction later that year, but the professional boxing sanctions remained in place.

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