NFL owner pays $6 million for Ali WBC belt

Famous collector Jim Irsay paid the high fees for the item

Jim Irsay can now also boast Muhammad Ali’s WBC championship belt that ‘The Greatest’ won against George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in addition to the Indianapolis Colts NFL franchise.

Bidding on the item until nearly 4 a.m. Sunday morning, superfan Ali Irsay paid $6 million for the item which is considered one of boxing’s most prized memorabilia.

Heritage Auctions claims the belt is one of only two known WBC belts linked to Ali, the other unlikely to sell as it is held in a private museum collection.

Irsay, whose father Robert made his fortune in the heating and air conditioning industry and bought the Colts when his son was 12, can also lay claim to the shoes Ali wore at the 1975 ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ against Joe Frazier and also his exit dress from a 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston which was his first appearance since dropping Cassius Clay and changing his name.

Irsay is a general memorabilia collector and has purchased documents written by America’s Founding Fathers and rock and roll items such as Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour’s $4 million black Fender Stratocaster.

Ali’s WBC belt is among the most expensive items at auction Irsay has purchased, but it was not awarded to the fighter when he beat Foreman in 1974 and instead two years later when the belts began to be distributed.

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Ali defended the WBC crown nine times before Leon Spinks dethroned him in 1978, then retired in 1981 with a 56-5 record.

Aged 74, Ali died in 2016 amid declining health and had battled Parkinson’s disease since the mid-1980s.


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