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Press Release - February 24, 2015
The 'Phantom Punch' Gloves From Ali-Liston II In 1965, The Most Controversial Sports Event In Modern History, Bring $956,000 At Auction1965 Muhammad Ali & Sonny Liston fight worn gloves — both pairs from the famous "Phantom Punch" bout —sell at Heritage Auctions for $956,000 on the 50th anniversary of the fight
The gloves were consigned to auction by Los Angeles collector Seth Ersoff, who acquired the pair from the family of the boxing commissioner for the state of Maine in 1965, who seized the gloves after the bout's scandalous end — Ali's "Phantom Punch" — just under two minutes into the first round.
The buyer, and advanced collector, has chosen to remain anonymous.
"These gloves are among the most important pieces of memorabilia to ever come to market," said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, "transcending sports. The drama and outrage that swirled around the Ali-Liston fights were a microcosm of America's growing pains of the mid-1960s."
The rematch was the first time that Muhammad Ali stepped into the ring as Muhammad Ali; not only had he just officially changed his name, the fight and everything that happened around it — beginning to end — put Ali on the path to becoming not only the greatest boxer of all time, but one of the most beloved human beings on the planet.
The controversy lingered for quite some time, with Ali emerging in time as a cherished world figure and with Liston dying ignominiously, alone, in the waning days of 1970. With the Golden Anniversary, and the national and international media attention surrounding the auction of these gloves, it's clear, with hindsight, that the fight represented a seminal and unique American moment.
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