Are you a fan of history?
If so, then you’ll understand the significance of one of boxing’s most storied belts being sold to the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay. The WBC heavyweight world title belt that was won by Muhammad Ali in the legendary 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight was bought in an auction for $6.18 million, according to Heritage Auctions.
Although it would be nearly 20 years later until I was born, I’ve heard countless stories of the legendary fight. My father vividly remembers people being worried about Ali’s life because he was challenging George Foreman, one of the most feared boxers of all time. Ali was a huge underdog and many thought he was out of his mind to even take the fight. But “The Greatest” famously employed the rope-a-dope method and defeated Foreman by knockout.
The hype, drama and excitement leading up to the event were beautifully shown in the 1996 documentary When We Were Kings.
In a tweet, Colts Owner Jim Irsay wrote, “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 historic item is the highest price for a sports collectible in the history of Heritage Auctions.
Chris Ivey, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions said, “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.”
He continued, “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.”
“The Jim Irsay Collection” is the Colts owner’s personal collection of memorabilia spanning rock music, American history and pop culture artifacts. The collection goes on its own world tour allowing the public to see many of the items he’s bought and collected throughout the years.
Irsay recently bought one of James Brown’s capes that read “Godfather of Soul” in an auction.