Irsay pays $6M at auction for Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ belt

  • Comments
  • Print

Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from his 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight title fight was sold at auction on Sunday for $6.18 million.

The winner of the heated competition for the belt was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, according to Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

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 on 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.

Ivy did not disclose the name of the person who competed against Irsay.

The 1974 fight was one of boxing’s most memorable moments. Ali stopped the fearsome George Foreman to recapture the heavyweight title in the African nation of Zaire. Ali won the fight in a knockout in the eighth round.

This belt joins other Ali artifacts in the Irsay collection, including Ali’s 1965 walkout robe that first bore his new name, his shoes from the 1975 “Thrilla’ in Manilla” vs. Joe Frazier, and his fight-worn gloves from a 1966 title defense in Germany.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

8 thoughts on “Irsay pays $6M at auction for Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ belt

  1. Wish they would stop reporting this. That’s 6.2 million that could have gone back in the stadium. Except the contract isn’t written that way

    1. It sure would be nice if the businessman actually paid for his own business and took care of his own overhead and we could use the sales tax for public services.

    2. Not a lot different than almost every company seeking inducements from a city/ state to locate their business/ expansion in Indiana. Plenty of corporate welfare everywhere you look. Is it a good thing? Sometimes, maybe, other times, maybe not. If you don’t like the stadium deal, take it up with the government agencies and officials that approved it. I personally think they gave away to much to the Colts.

    3. I’m not a fan of corporate welfare in any shape or form, but incentives usually come in the form of tax abatements. This was full-blown “impose a sales tax on the region that nobody asked for and nobody will benefit from” level of grift. Irsay gets to keep all of the money from the naming rights, ticket sales, concessions, etc. and the CIB pays for all of the maintenance of the facility as well as the construction. I mean, it’s astounding. The State won’t let us have a local sales tax because reasons but they will throw literally hundreds of millions of dollars at one man to retain a football team that plays 8 times a year.

  2. Yea Jim, the stealing of tax payer dollars to fund you narcissistic habit doesn’t play well with a poor stiff trying to put $5 gas in his car to get to work for $16 an hour.