Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s gloves, which he wore during the famous “Fight of the Century,” against Joe Frazier, sold for $388,375 at an auction on Thursday.
The gloves from the 1971 fight were sold to an anonymous bidder for $388,375 by Texas-based Heritage Auctions at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The duel, which became famous as the "Fight of the Century," was held in New York's Madison Square Garden and was the first of three fights between Ali and Frazier, who is also known as “Smokin' Joe.”
"'The Fight of the Century,' as it was billed, more than lived up to its billing despite the fact the Ali lost," Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage, said in a statement. "I can think of no piece of memorabilia associated with it that could be more evocative than the gloves the Ali wore. Yes, he was defeated, but the fight really changed Ali as a man, starting the transition from a brilliant, rash rabble-rouser into the most beloved sports figure of the 20th century, if not of all time."
A pair of gloves Ali wore during his first World Championship fight with Sonny Liston in 1964 was auctioned by Heritage in February for $836,500.
The “Fight of the Century,” which Ali lost to Frazier, was also known for the record prize money at stake.
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“[Ali] and Frazier are both going to get $2.5 million the morning after the fight whether anybody comes or not. A flat $2.5 million. Guaranteed. The most money ever paid to any man for a maximum 45 minutes’ work,” a report on the fight from Life magazine's March 5, 1971 issue said.
"It's hard for us today to imagine the incredible hype around the fight, but the world completely stopped when it came time for the fighters to enter the ring in Las Vegas," Ivy said, in the statement. "While our heavyweight collectors wouldn't have stood a chance in the ring, they certainly duked it out, through multiple rounds of bidding, before our winner emerged victorious."