The Holy Grail of Boxing Memorabilia

For any collector, seeking out the rarest items in their particular field of interest is the ‘wow factor’ for them. This is no different for those, like me that collect boxing memorabilia. For example, although it is always great when you collect a recent program for a big fight, it just cannot replicate the feeling when you discover a piece of memorabilia tied to a major event in boxing history. Thankfully, there have been many important fights and figures in this sport resulting in plenty of items for us to collect!

Muhammad Ali is undoubtedly the biggest name boxing has ever seen, transcending the sport and becoming one of the most recognizable people in the 20th Century. Ali memorabilia, like the man himself, goes beyond being of interest to just boxing fans. Due to this, anything tied to his name fetches a high price. Ali autographs, despite there being more available than any other autographs in boxing, generally fetch in excess of $1,000 depending on the item signed, although Marvin Hart’s signature valued up to $10,000 is considered the most rare and collectable. As for the most desirable Ali items, they are all, understandably, associated to his most defining fights. A full, uncut ticket for Clay-Liston can bring in up to $10,000, whilst a ticket for the controversial rematch can see a not too shabby $1,500. The highly desirable Ali-Frazier I on-site poster is valued at over $5,000 as another example. Yet, it is memorabilia from the historic Ali-Foreman fight that is generally seen as the most sought after. Not only is it the most notable boxing fight in history alongside Louis-Schmeling II and the first Ali-Frazier fight, but it was held in Zaire, which made obtaining on-site items that bit more difficult. As it is, the on-site program for the fight can top $7,500, whilst an on-site poster, an exceedingly rare item, is beyond $12,000.

However, the on-site poster for the aforementioned Louis-Schmeling II fight can reach an astronomically high $25,000 depending on its condition, making it seemingly the most valuable of all boxing fight posters. Other rare and valuable fight posters are ones that include popular pre-war heavyweights such as Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey and John L. Sullivan.

Heavyweights are, despite what you may think after having read the above, not the only fighters involved within the rare and collectable memorabilia in boxing. Sugar Ray Robinson, the general consensus being that he is the greatest of all time, commands plenty of attention. For example, there is only one known on-site poster for his second clash with Randy Turpin for the middleweight title, valued at above $15,000.

Tragedy, sadly, also makes certain items to be very rare. A dual-signed on-site poster for the Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini-Deukoo Kim fight, thought to be only one in existence, is valued at around $3,000, whilst an on-site poster signed by both Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan for their hellacious battle is seen at above $6,000.

However, if you are in search for the holy grail of boxing memorabilia, then you have to look at individual items such as title belts, fight worn gloves and trunks, and unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that once belonged to the greats of the sport. Notable pieces that have sold at auction include the gloves James Corbett wore for his fight with John L. Sullivan and Ali’s gloves from the memorable first Henry Cooper fight, both coming in at $60,000 or higher. As for trunks, Ali’s from the first Frazier fight brought in $100,000 at auction, whilst his robe from the Foreman fight took in a record $160,000.

When it comes to titles, the British Lonsdale belt, considered by many to be aesthetically the most pleasing title in all of boxing, is one of the most sought after pieces by boxing collectors. A Lonsdale belt that was awarded to Randy Turpin over 50 years ago sold for over $30,000 at auction in 2000. As for the most collectable ‘world’ title, that would have to be the Ring Magazine title. Ring belts awarded to Sugar Ray Robinson, and Joe Louis are valued at beyond a staggering $100,000.

However, the award for ‘the Holy Grail of Boxing Memorabilia’ has to go to the Ring title one Cassius Clay won when he toppled the fearsome Sonny Liston in 1964. It would come as no surprise for this piece of memorabilia to top seven figures if it were to find its way to auction!