Muhammad Ali’s Infamous Gloves Sell For $860,500 at AuctionBy: Courtney Wills - February 23, 2014
Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves from his first championship fight in Miami Beach nearly half a century ago sold at an auction in New York on Saturday, bringing over four times what they had been expected to sell for.
An unnamed buyer at the Heritage Auctions Sports’ Platinum Night Auction bought the historical gloves for $860,500. Heritage Auctions recently said that the pair of gloves were estimated to sell for $250,000.
The “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” heavyweight champion wore the infamous gloves in his first championship fight against Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston when the two met in the ring for the first time on February 25, 1964. Liston, a former convict and rumored mob associate, lost to the fight’s underdog in the seventh round when he ended the fight, claiming he was injured.
Ali, who had been known by his birth name of Cassius Clay, Jr. until after his title-winning fight against Liston, was deemed to be more talk than anything else; Ali and his cornerman, Bundini Brown, routinely constructed witty mantras to psyche opponents out, such as the boxer’s words upon beating Sonny Liston.
“The crowd did not dream when they put up the money that they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny,” Ali yelled.
Clay had already won gold at the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the light heavyweight boxing category when he met Sonny Liston, though he was still relatively unknown in the boxing world. After his first match-up with Liston, however, Clay soon became Cassius X (and later Muhammad Ali), imprinting himself into the minds of Americans.
Cassius Clay was a devout member of a new black Muslim religion, the Nation of Islam, which was still considered frighteningly foreign in 1960s America. Clay’s promoters somehow kept the mouthy boxer from voicing his religious opinions until after his fight against Liston, though Clay wasted no time preaching his beliefs upon his victory. Cassius Clay became Cassius X just two days after he won the title, saying, “I don’t have to be who you want me to be. I’m free to be who I want.”
Though he is no longer able to recite his old catchphrases, it is without question that Ali experienced an extraordinary career, having been unofficially deemed the best boxer in history for nearly five decades; Ali defended his heavyweight title eight more times after his second round with Sonny in February 1965, and would later claim even more.
The boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay, Jr. would go on to win the title two more times upon his return to the sport following a three-year hiatus after he refused to be drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1967. Ali was banned from boxing and stripped of his titles upon his noncompliance, though they were later reinstated after the Supreme Court overturned the original ruling.
Image via @MuhammadAli, Twitter.