Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay pays $6 million for Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt at auction

INDIANAPOLIS– Foals owner Jim Irsay made a major late-night acquisition at a high price.

Irsay’s latest move was not football related. Instead, it’s the newest addition to his growing historic collection: Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt won in the fighter’s 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” victory over George Foreman in Zaire.

Irsay acquired the object for $6 million at auction after a bidding process that lasted until nearly 4 a.m. Sunday morning. It is considered one of the most valuable examples of boxing memorabilia in existence. The belt sold in 2016 for $358,500, then sold in 2017 for $120,000. According to Heritage Auctions, the belt is one of only two known Ali WBC belts; the other is kept in a private museum collection and is unlikely to be sold, according to the company.

“Proud to be the steward! » Irsay tweeted.

The belt is just the latest piece of Ali’s memorabilia to come into Irsay’s possession. He had previously purchased the shoes Ali wore in 1975’s “Thrilla in Manila,” Ali’s famous win over Joe Frazier. And earlier this year, Irsay bought the walkout dress Ali wore in his first fight after changing his name from Cassius Clay – a 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston.

Irsay has compiled a historical collection of hundreds of articles. They range from rare rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia such as David Gilmour’s famous black Stratocaster guitar from Pink Floyd ($4 million) and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr’s drum kit ($2.2 million), to documents written by America’s founding fathers. But the Ali belt is one of the most expensive items Irsay has ever purchased.

Ali defeated Foreman in the 1974 fight, but was awarded the belt retroactively when the belts began being awarded in 1976. Ali defended the WBC title nine times before relinquishing it in 1978.

Information from ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren was used in this report.

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