Jim Irsay buys Muhammad Ali's Rumble in the Jungle belt for $6.18m

The Muhammad Ali collection of Troy Kinunen was the highlight of Heritage Auctions July 2022 Summer Sports Catalog.

Over 1,600 Ali pieces of memorabilia were auctoned with the top selling lot being Muhammad Ali's championship belt from the infamous 1974 Rumble in the Jungle comeback fight versus George Foreman, in Kinshasha, Zaire.

Muhammad Ali Rumble in the Jungle championship belt
Image: Heritage Auctions


Estimated at $125,000 the belt proved extremely popular and eventually sold for $1.68m, immediately becoming the fourth most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

The buyer was billionaire Jim Irsay, the man who recently spent $4.55m on Kurt Cobain's Smells Like Teen Spirit guitar.

The belt will be added to Irsay's travelling collection of American History and Pop Culture memorabilia and will likely be on display in Chicago on 2nd August.

Other Ali items in Irsay's collection include the 1965 robe that first used the Muhammad Ali name, Ali's boxing shoes from the Thrilla in Manilla and a pair of gloves from Ali's 1966 title defense versus Karl Mildenberger, in Germany.

The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold remains Diego Maradona's Argentina short worn on the 1986 World Cup versus England which sold for £7.1m in May 2022.

Other highlights from the Heritage Auctions sale include the red robe worn by Ali prior to his 1971 fight with Joe Frazier, which sold for $348,000 against an estimate of $100,000.

Both sets of boxing gloves from Ali's second fight against Henry Cooper in 1966 sold for $55,200. 

Bundini jacket sells at Heritage Auctions
Image: Heritage Auctions


Bundini Brown's cornerman jacket with the 'Float like a Butterfly Sting like a Bee' logo sold for $12,600, against an estimate of $1,500.

Muhammad Ali & Angelo Dundee Miami Beach Gym sign sold at auction
Image: Heritage Auctions


One of our favourite lots was the 8ft wide Miami Beach 5th Street Gym sign, where Ali trained with Angelo Dundee which sold for $16,200 against an estimate of $12.500.

The most valuable pre-auction lot was the prayer cap given to Ali before the Thrilla in Manila in 1975 with an estimate of $250,000.

The lot surprisingly went unsold and is now available at a buy now price of $300,000 on the Heritage website.

Full results can be found at Heritage Auctions.

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