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1970's Muhammad Ali Passport with Philippines, Zaire Stamping....

2009 April Signature Vintage Sports Memorabilia Auction #714

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Auction Ended On: Apr 24, 2009
Item Activity: 24 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

1970's Muhammad Ali Passport with Philippines, Zaire Stamping. "I am America," Ali once explained. "I am the part you won't recognize, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky -- my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me." Once the most controversial figure in sports, he is now the most beloved. Always he has been the most intriguing, and always The Greatest.

Heritage is honored for the opportunity to present a piece that speaks to the power of this iconic athletic figure in a way that few others could, one that not only provides access (both figuratively and literally) to his two greatest ring triumphs, but also allowed this outspoken hero to present his vision of America to the world. There is perhaps no other artifact from the life and times of Muhammad Ali that so effectively addresses his cultural importance as an official document issued by the country that had stripped him of his Heavyweight title, and that he used to go and reclaim it in Africa, and defend it in Asia.

The passport was issued to Ali at the American embassy in London, presumably to replace one lost during his travels, and though the expiration date is entered as "Dec. 10, 1974," stamping later in the book extends its validity. Ali signs his page 3 passport photo in 9/10 black ink, and, oddly, his wife signs for him on the page above in 10/10 blue ink. As we flip through the pages to follow, we find various entry and exit stamping, most notably a full two pages noting his arrival in Zaire in early September of 1974, and his exit on Halloween, just a day after his "rope-a-dope" tactics shocked George Foreman and the world at the mythical "Rumble in the Jungle."

On the very next page is found 1975 stamping applied at the Philippine capital, where Ali would once again find himself on the winning end of one of boxing history's most storied events. His punishing fourteenth-round victory over Joe Frazier, forever recalled as "The Thrilla in Manila," was made possible with this passport. We'll also note June 1975 stamping for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, dating in advance of his July 1st victory over Joe Bugner.

The passport remains in perfect condition, without so much as a tear, stain or crease to note. An absolutely unassailable treasure, for the most devout Ali collector. Auction LOA from James Spence Authentication.

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