Muhammad Ali’s WBC Heavyweight Championship belt earned in victory over George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” match sold for more than $6.1 million on Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay won the heated bidding war that went for several hours, posting on Twitter, “Proud to be the steward.”
“BREAKING—-Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when he employed his rope-a-dope and defeated George Foreman—-just added to @IrsayCollection Just in time for the Aug. 2 show at Chicago’s Navy Pier (and Sept. 9 at Indy). Proud to be the steward!”
Heritage Auctions in Dallas said the belt sold for $6,180,000, the highest price for a sports collectible sold at Heritage Auctions.
“After several hours of watching two bidders go back and forth over this belt, this proved to be a battle worthy of the Rumble itself,” says Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions. “We’re just thrilled this extraordinary piece of boxing history — of sports history, of cultural history — found such an exceptional caretaker who will now share it with the rest of the world.”
The central plate of the green leather belt is gold-colored metal with enamel detailing of the swirling national flags, most of which has chipped away over decades of storage. Text reads, “World Champion W.B.C.,” and an “Adidas” sponsorship logo appears at bottom. The name of designer “Hugenin” appears at eight o’clock position. Smaller twin “Adidas” plates frame the central plaque, and golden pinstriping adorns top and bottom of the leather belt itself, which measures forty inches (40″) end to end.
The 1974 match was one of boxing’s most memorable moments. Ali beat the fearsome George Foreman to recapture the heavyweight title in the African nation of Zaire. Ali won by knockout in the eighth round.