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Lot # 1571 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1974 Muhammad Ali Rumble in the Jungle Fight-Worn Shoes (Ex-Drew Bundini Brown Collection; Photo and Video Matched!)

Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $100,725.00

The heavyweight title bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on October 30, 1974, famously known as the "Rumble in the Jungle," marked perhaps the greatest victory in Muhammad Ali's legendary career. Presented here are the very shoes worn by Ali in that epic fight, which, ideally, have been photo-matched and video-matched by world-renowned boxing expert Craig Hamilton, and have the provenance of originating directly from Drew "Bundini" Brown, Ali's longtime assistant trainer and friend. (In fact, it was Brown who coined Ali's most famous mantra: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.")

The white leather shoes, which are calf high, were manufactured by Everlast and are each stamped size "13" on the interior. Each shoe features a circular leather patch along the exterior side. The patch (2.5 inches in diameter) features an outer blue circle decorated with twelve white stars. The interior portion of the patch is red, with a white thunderbolt displayed within. Twenty eyelets for the laces appear on each shoe. Written in blue ink along the top interior portion of the right shoe, in what we believe to be the hand of Bundini Brown, is the notation "Ali-George Foreman - Oct 29, 1974." (The fight took place in Zaire on October 29, 1974, but because of the time difference, it was viewed live in the United States on October 30, 1974.) A similar blue-ink notation, again in what we believe to be the hand of Bundini Brown, appears along the top interior portion of the left shoe and reads "Ali-Foreman - Oct 29, 1974." Each shoe has been signed by Muhammad Ali in black marker on the exterior (grading "7"). A small circular tag, displaying the notation "RK8882," is attached to one of the eyelets of the left shoe. The shoes displays heavy wear, including numerous scuff marks, but remain intact, with no tears.

These shoes have an extensively documented history and originate directly from Bundini Brown's storage locker. Accompanying the shoes is a detailed two-page LOA from boxing authority and authenticator Craig Hamilton in which he fully details their unique provenance. In part:

I, Craig Hamilton of JO Sports, Inc. certify that the boxing shoes described herein are, in my opinion, the boxing shoes worn by Muhammad Ali in his fight with George Foreman on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali won that fight by 8th round knockout to regain the world heavyweight title.

The signatures on the shoes are, in my opinion, authentic signatures of Muhammad Ali dating to the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. Our research has determined the signatures were obtained by a prior owner of the shoes named Andrew Heller. The shoes date to the time of the fight which was fought on October 30, 1974 (United States time). The shoes passed from Muhammad Ali to his long time assistant trainer and friend, Drew “Bundini” Brown. Drew “Bundini” Brown was at the fight on October 30, 1974 and worked in the corner of Muhammad Ali. Brown had access to these shoes and other equipment and after taking possession of them after the fight stored them in a storage locker facility in California along with a large quantity of fight worn and training equipment of Muhammad Ali from numerous other fights. Brown died in Los Angeles on September 24, 1987. The contents of his storage locker, including his extensive collection of Muhammad Ali memorabilia, were sold for non payment of storage fees by Sartain Auctioneers in April, 1988. Each item in the sale, including the shoes described herein, were tagged with a number, described for the sale in a printed pamphlet, and sold. This original “locker” sale inventory is attached to this letter. On page seven (7) of this inventory the shoes are described next to their assigned inventory number RK8882: WHITE EVERLAST SIZE 13 WITH RED WHITE AND BLUE SCRIPT E LOGO. WRITTEN IN EACH SHOE IN BLUE INK”ALI-(GEORGE, ONLY IN ONE) FOREMAN OCT 29, 1974” ALSO CONTAIN IN SHOES ARE FIST WRAPPINGS FOR EACH HAND. SHOES WORN BUT IN GOOD CONDITION. 300.00. This description from the locker inventory perfectly matches the shoes described herein (with the exception of the hand wrappings which are not included).

I have matched these shoes to those worn by Muhammad Ali in this fight as shown in color, still photographs and video from the fight and they match favorably in every detail. The writing inside the shoes in ink, in my opinion, is that of Drew Brown and matches other examples in my possession, including some from this locker sale in 1988. Muhammad Ali wore size 13 shoes during his career and at the time of this fight in 1974. The chronology of the shoes is as follows: Drew “Bundini” Brown took possession of the shoes following the fight and placed them in his storage locker. The shoes were sold by Sartain Auctioneers in April, 1988 to Andrew Heller. Mr. Heller had the shoes signed by Muhammad Ali and sold them in a sports auction by Sothebys in 2002. The original letter of authenticity from that sale is an exhibit attached to this letter. It is my understanding the purchaser of the shoes intends to auction the shoes at the Spring, 2013 auction being conducted by Robert Edward Auctions. Based on all research conducted it is my opinion these shoes are the shoes worn by Muhammad Ali in his fight with George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974.

The famed "Rumble in the Jungle" was one of the defining moments of Ali's illustrious career. Matched against Foreman, who was coming off a dominating victory over Joe Frazier (one of Foreman's blows actually lifted Frazier off the canvas), Ali was given little chance by many pundits of regaining the heavyweight title. Undaunted by critics and buoyed by the support of the local fans, who constantly chanted "Ali Bomaye!" ("Ali kill him"), Ali shocked the world by registering an eighth-round knockdown of Foreman. His victory came in large part from his use of the famous "rope-a-dope," a strategy of letting Foreman tire himself out by pounding on him while he remained covered up on the ropes. While Ali had many great fights in his career, the "Rumble in the Jungle" is at the top of the list for most fight historians when compiling a list of the greatest bouts in boxing history. These shoes are certainly among the most historically significant Ali fight-worn items extant and, as noted by Craig Hamilton in his letter, they are being offered here at public auction for only the third time in the past forty years. This is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a tangible piece of history relating to one of Ali's most important fights. LOA from Craig Hamilton and LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $10,000. Estimate $20,000++. SOLD FOR $100,725.00

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