Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Isray owns one of the largest sports memorabilia collections in the hobby. He added another amazing piece to his collection Sunday, purchasing Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt for a stunning $6.18 million.
Ali reclaimed the heavyweight title by knocking out George Foreman during the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire.
According to Sports Collectors Daily, the belt is one of the most expensive sports memorabilia items ever sold, trailing the $9.2 million sale of Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup jersey and the 1892 Olympic Manifesto, which sold for $8.8 million.
The belt was part of what Heritage Auctions called “the most comprehensive Muhammad Ali collection ever to come to auction.” The 1,600-item collection, owned by Troy Kinunen, the owner and CEO of MEARS Authentications, was part of Heritage’s Summer Sports Auction.
The red robe Ali famously wore prior to his 1971 “Thrilla in Manilla” fight against Joe Frazier sold for $348,000.
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A white robe from his 1977 fight against Earnie Shavers sold for $87,000, while his gloves from his 1976 fight against Ken Norton sold for $63,000.
The championship belt was originally owned by longtime Ali cornerman Bundini Brown and sold for $358,500 in 2016. Ali reclaimed the belt that had been stripped of him seven years earlier when he refused to be drafted into the Army to fight in Vietnam.
Irsay plans to put the belt on display as part of his collection in Chicago on Aug. 2 and in Indianapolis on Sept. 9-10.