During the early hours of Sunday morning, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had the winning bid for one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous championship belts. The rare belt sold at auction for a staggering amount around 4 a.m. after a lengthy bidding process.
The NFL owner is no stranger to buying expensive sports and music-related memorabilia. In May, the billionaire paid almost $5 million for Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar. He also has several other famous guitars from Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Prince, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, and more.
Additionally, some of the highlights of his sports memorabilia collection includes Jackie Robinson’s World Series bat. He also has Muhammad Ali’s shoes from the famous “Thrilla in Manila” fight against Joe Frazier. Now, Jim Irsay is adding another prized piece of Ali history to his collection. The Colts owner officially owns Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt earned after beating George Foreman in the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Zaire.
So how much did the famous championship belt cost Jim Irsay? By the end of the auction, the 63-year-old dished out a whopping $6.18 million for Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” belt. It’s another prominent piece that will be added to Irsay’s forever growing historic collection.
Jim Irsay Adds More Historic Muhammad Ali Memorabilia to His Impressive Collection
Jim Irsay’s most recent purchase at auction is one of the most treasured pieces of boxing memorabilia in the world. And its price tag has increased exponentially in recent years. The “Rumble in the Jungle” WBC championship belt sold in 2016 for $358,500. One year later, it sold for a third of that at $120,000 in 2017. Only five years later, the belt sold through Heritage Auctions for more than $6 million.
According to the auction house, the belt is one of only two known WBC belts held by Muhammad Ali during his legendary boxing career. The WBC did not award championship belts until 1976. Therefore they awarded Ali the belt retroactively two years later after he defeated Foreman. Ali would go on to defend the belt nine times before yielding it in 1978. The second belt is owned by a private museum collection, and it’s unlikely it will ever head to auction.
As mentioned, Jim Irsay now has quite the Muhammad Ali collection. He already owned Ali’s “Thrilla in Manila” shoes from 1975. Plus, earlier this year, Irsay bought the walkout robe Ali wore in his 1965 rematch against Sonny Liston. That was the first fight the boxer competed in after changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
At $6.18 million, the Ali belt is one of the most expensive items in Jim Irsay’s collection. Some of the other top-dollar items in his collection include Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s famous black Fender Stratocaster, which he bought for $4 million. Irsay also purchased Beatles drummer Ringo Starr’s drum kit for $2.2 million.