Offbeat

By Josh Saunders


Rare and signed Fight of the Century memorabilia from Muhammad Ali including his fight cheque, draft refusal, boxing love and more fetch $37,000 (27.2kGBP) at auction.

The pieces were sold with Robert Edward Samuel Auctions this Sunday (MAY 6th) with many items more than tripling their estimates.

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Most notably, a signed press release by the ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ boxer sold for a whopping $19,200 (14kGBP) – nearly quadruple the predicted price.

The four-paged typed document with his signature, announced his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War.

A court case against his decision would take four years to be overturned, with Ali being threatened with a five-year prison stint and $10k (7.2kGBP) fine.

A portion of the cheque for Ali’s participation in ‘The Fight of the Century’ at Madison Square, New York, after losing to Joe Frazier, was sold for $3,900 (2.8kGBP).

A ticket to the same fight where Frazier won in a unanimous 15-round verdict sold for $3,300 (2.3kGBP) and a boxing glove signed by both boxers, which sold for $1,440 (1kGBP).

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Brian Dwyer, REA president, said: “The Ali Draft Refusal price was a great one.

“Muhammad Ali was one of the most admired, yet polarizing athletes of the 20th century.

Ali’s press release discloses Ali’s stance on the Vietnam War, a position that cost him the Heavyweight championship.

“These historical pieces will be cherished in any collection.”

Radio Reporter Dan Lovett, the consignor, said: “I was assigned on April 28, 1967, to cover the proceedings surrounding the arrival of, then World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, for his Texas induction hearing.

“After his third refusal he was informed that he had committed a felony and would be so charged.

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“Leaving the Draft Board hearing, Ali held a brief press conference on the sidewalk outside of the Draft Board office, handing out a four-page release, stating his reasons for refusing the draft.

“There were no more than 30 to 35 media members in attendance, including Howard Cosell of ABC Sports.

“I, for some reason, asked him to autograph my copy of the release when he had finished reading it and answering questions of the press.

“He did so on the last page of the document. I am certain the U.S. Government has a copy of the release, but certainly not autographed by Ali.

“In addition, I have not been able, for over 40 years, to find anyone who has kept a copy, as I did.

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“I even asked Cosell about it years later, if he had kept a copy and he said no. I am not sure even Ali or the Nation of Islam still has a copy of his release.”

A twice signed California state athletic medical form for $1,920 (1.4kGBP) and a Cassius Clay signed birthday card to son Bundini Brown sold for $1,560 (1.1kGBP).

These join a handwritten letter from Ali to his friend, the singer Robert Goulet, who he jokingly mocks with contemporary rap lyrics, which sold for an estimate for $1,200 (800GBP) – alongside other pieces.

Brian said: “Ali’s note to Robert Goulet revealed The King’s famous playful personality.

“Using rap lyrics, Ali mocked Goulet who stumbled reciting the Star Spangled Banner before his 1965 championship fight vs. Sonny Liston.”

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Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, he started training at the age of 12 and would go onto become one of the popular boxers in the world.

Aside from his talent and wicked wordplay outside the ring, in later life he would inspire millions following his retirement in 1981.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Syndrome three years later, he carried the Olympic torch in 1996 and at the London 2012 games participated in the opening ceremony.

He died two years ago but will remain forever-known and loved as one of the most widely celebrated athletes of the 20th Century.

For more information on future auctions visit: www.robertedwardauctions.com/bids