The WBC heavyweight championship belt of boxing legend Muhammad Ali from his 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight was sold at auction on Sunday for $6.18 million, making it the fourth most expensive item of sports memorabilia ever sold.
The winner of the heated competition for the belt was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, according to Heritage Auctions in Dallas.Read more: Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ belt sells for $6.18M in auction
In a tweet Sunday, Irsay confirmed he acquired the belt for his collection of rock music, American history and pop culture memorabilia that is currently touring the country. The belt will be displayed on Aug. 2 at Chicago’s Navy Pier and n Sept. 9 in Indianapolis. “Proud to be the steward!” Irsay tweeted.
“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,” Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports auctions, said in a statement.
Presenting the belt ahead of auction, a Heritage Auctions spokesperson said: “Here we present the foremost symbol of that glorious achievement, the WBC Heavyweight Championship belt earned for Muhammad Ali’s victory over George Foreman in the fabled ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
“Ali drained the thunder from the Foreman storm and then unleashed lightning of his own, dropping Goliath for the count and, finally, seven years after his title had been unjustly stripped, completing his long journey back to the mountain top of the sport.
The 1974 fight was one of boxing’s most memorable moments. Deploying his now infamous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics, Ali stopped the fearsome George Foreman to recapture the heavyweight title in the African nation of Zaire. Ali won the fight with a knockout in the eighth round.