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Ali's gloves up for auction

2015-02-21 21:08
Muhammad Ali. (AFP)

New York - The gloves worn by Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston during their infamous 1965 rematch and a rare century-old signed photo of baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson are expected to fetch more than $1 million total at an auction on Saturday.

Both pairs of gloves from the May 25, 1965, bout in Lewiston, Maine - won by Ali with a first-round knockout from what some saw as a "phantom punch" - were seized by George Russo, the boxing commissioner for Maine. The gloves remained in the Russo family until a California collector, who is the current owner, purchased them several years ago.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is handling the sale in New York City.

Footage of the fight does not make it clear whether Ali's quick right hand actually connected, and many fans booed. Even the most famous photos of the fight show an enraged Ali standing over Liston as he lay on the canvas; Ali is gesturing and yelling at Liston to get up and fight.

The Lewiston rematch was the first bout in which the champion stepped into the ring as Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam. He was still Cassius Clay a year earlier when he won the championship from Liston in Miami. His glove from that bout sold last year at Heritage Auctions for $836 500.

Ali signed both pairs of gloves when he came to Lewiston in 1995 to celebrate the fight's 30th anniversary. Liston died in 1970.

The photo of Jackson, who is mostly remembered for being banned from baseball for his role in the 1919 World Series gambling scandal and later being depicted in the movie "Field of Dreams," was expected to fetch about $100 000. Jackson was illiterate and rarely signed anything but paychecks and legal documents, making his autograph among the rarest in sports.

How many of his signatures are in existence isn't clear, but most experts agree that it's probably less than 100.

Autograph experts from two different authentication companies closely examined the signature on the photo of Jackson and determined it was the real thing, Heritage Auctions said.

A baseball bearing Jackson's shaky signature brought $78 000 in 2011. Even a scrap of paper with his autograph sold for $23,100 nearly 25 years ago.

The photo of Jackson that's now up for sale was unknown in the sports memorabilia world until last year.

It had been kept in a scrapbook filled with black and white photos of ballplayers from the early 1900s. The collection originated with Frank W. Smith, a photographer with The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland, according to Heritage. Smith shot the photo of Jackson along with those of Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Napoleon Lajoie during spring training in 1911.

Read more on:    muhammad ali  |  boxing

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