Jim Irsai, owner of Indianapolis Colts pays $6 million for Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt at auction

Indianapolis – Colts owner Jim Irsay made a big late-night acquisition at a hefty price.

Irsay’s last move was not football related. Instead, it’s the latest addition to his growing historical repertoire: Muhammad Ali’s WBC Championship belt was won in the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fighter’s victory over George Foreman in Zaire.

Irsay acquired the item for $6 million at auction after a bidding process that lasted until about 4 a.m. Sunday. It is considered one of the most valuable examples of boxing memorabilia in existence. The belt sold in 2016 for $358,500 and then sold in 2017 for $120,000. According to Heritage Auctions, the belt is one of two known belts on WBC. The other is in the collection of a private museum and is not likely to be sold, according to the company.

“Proud to be the host!” irsai tweet.

The belt is Ali’s latest souvenir to arrive in Irsai. He had previously bought the shoes Ali wore in the 1975 movie Thrilla in Manila, Ali’s famous victory over Joe Frazier. And earlier this year, Irsay bought the exit gown Ali wore in his first fight after changing his name from Cassius Clay—a 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston.

Irsay has compiled a historical collection of hundreds of items. They range from rare rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia like David Gilmore’s famous black Stratocaster from Pink Floyd ($4 million) and the Beatles’ Ringo Star drum kit ($2.2 million), to documents written by the Founding Fathers of America. But Ali’s belt is one of the most expensive items Irsay has ever bought.

He defeated Ali Foreman in a 1974 fight but earned the belt retroactively when he began awarding belts in 1976. Ali defended the WBC title nine times before relinquishing it in 1978.

Information from ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren was used in this report.


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