NFL team owner purchases rare Muhammad Ali belt for millions
Muhammad Ali was awarded the belt after the 'Rumble in the Jungle'
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay added boxing gold to his impressive collection Sunday.
Irsay bought Muhammad Ali’s WBC heavyweight championship belt from when the boxing legend defeated George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" bout in Zaire in 1974.
"BREAKING—-Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ just added to @IrsayCollection," Irsay tweeted. "Just in time for the Aug. 2 show at Chicago’s Navy Pier (and Sept. 9 at Indy). Proud to be the steward."
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Irsay bought the belt for more than $6.1 million, according to Heritage Auctions.
"Two Muhammad Ali WBC belts are known to exist, one in a private museum collection unlikely to ever see the hobby's auction block. The only other known surviving Muhammad Ali heavyweight championship belt on Earth is presented here," Heritage Auction said in its description.
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"But the historical significance of the piece, arguably the most important boxing award ever made available at public auction, is quite simply immeasurable. Far more than just a trophy of elite athletic achievement, this belt serves as a mute witness to Muhammad Ali's undaunted pursuit of justice itself and as a symbol of the myriad complexities of race, religion and patriotism that challenge all of us to this day. It is a truly priceless artifact of the American experience and of an American life as consequential as any thus far lived."
Irsay has amassed a massive collection of memorabilia. He bought Ali’s shoes from the "Thrilla in Manila" in 1975 and Ali’s robe from when he fought Sonny Liston in 1965, the first fight after he changed his name from Cassius Clay.
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Aside from the Ali relics, Irsay also has Ringo Starr’s drumhead from one of the Beatles’ performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1974, George Harrison’s Gibson SG played on some of The Beatles’ most famous records and historic pieces like the recommendation for the first Thanksgiving to be observed in the U.S. from 1777.