World's greatest ever Muhammad Ali memorabilia collection heads to auction

The Muhammad Ali collection of Troy Kinunen is to highlight the Heritage Auctions July 2022 Summer Sports Catalog which already has over 7,000 registered bidders.

Despite once beong 'only' a baseball fan, Troy, the President of MEARS authentications has managed to assemble the world's largest collection of Muhammad Ali memorabilia.

He bought his first piece at a sports memorabilia convention in New York City in 1988 - a poster of Ali's 1966 fight against Cleveland Williams at Houston's astrodome, the only piece he could afford at the time.

"It was colorful, it was cardboard, it was kind of small, and I thought I could display it...  and a kind of light bulb went on at that very moment."

Troy then spent 30 years amassing over 1,600 items including Muhammad Ali posters, gloves, trunks, mouthpieces, robes and even championship belts.

"Quite simply, it is the most comprehensive Muhammad Ali collection ever to come to auction,"  Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage told us.

"What Troy has done here is tell Ali's life story with treasures that were present for every bout and every brag and every historic highlight in between. It's one of the most extraordinary collections we have ever been honored to offer."

Muhammad Ali fist autograph to auction at Heritage
Image: Heritage Auctions


Highlights inlcude a 1960 Intercity Golden Gloves team-signed photograph that bears what's likely Cassius Clay's first autograph which has a starting bid of $2,500.

Muhammad Ali's first newspaper photograph for sale at Heritage
Image: Heritage Auctions


There is also a 1959 photo that's likely to have been used as Muhammad Ali's first newspaper photograph - this comes with a starting bid of $2,800.

Muhammad Ali red robe to sell at Heritage Auctions
Image: Heritage Auctions


One of the star items, with a $100,000 starting bid, is the red robe Ali wore entering the ring in his first fight with Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden. Ali lost the fight and claimed his infidelity to his usual white-and-black clothing had been one of the reasons for his loss. He never wore red again.

Muhammad Ali championship belt to auction at Heritage Auctions
Image: Heritage Auctions


Also available is the WBC Heavyweight Championship Belt Ali reclaimed when he knocked out George Foreman in eight rounds during October 1974's Rumble in the Jungle, this has a starting bid of $125,000.

The most valuable lot in the auction is a prayer cap given to Ali before the Thrilla in Manila in 1975. Considered a religious artefact by the current owner the cap drew crowds when displayed last year at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. Starting bid $250,000.

5th St Miami Gym sign
Image: Heritage Auctions


A great piece with a lovely story and great provenance is an 8ft sign from the 5th St. Gym in Miami Beach where Ali trained from 1960. The gym was founded by Chris Dundee and is where Ali met legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.

The sign has a starting bid $12,500 but is a true connoisseur item and a great conversation piece. (Ed - it'd be my pick of all the auction lots as it's 'where it all started').

Another great lot is the very colourful 'Float Like a butterfly sting like a bee" jacket worn by Ali's cornerman Drew "Bundini" Brown. 

Muhammad Ali's cornerman jacket for auction at Heritage
Image: Heritage Auctions


This was worn by Bundini at the 1976 Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight and has a starting bid of $1,500.

Other lots include:

  • 1981 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Waist Guard from Trevor Berbick Bout with Assistant Trainer Provenance at $5,000
  • 1974 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Mouthpiece from "The Rumble in the Jungle" at $5,000
  • 1972 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Right Hand Wrap from Bob Foster Bout at $1,000

Full details at Heritage Auctions.

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