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    "The Heisman Trophy of professional boxing"

    1975 Edward J. Neil Award Presented to Muhammad Ali. Our consignor was just a teenaged kid when he traded rooms with Muhammad Ali so that the legendary pugilist could reside in the Upper West Side (of Manhattan) apartment of his father Harold Conrad. He recalls waking up at the Essex House every morning at five a.m. to meet Ali for runs in Central Park as he trained for his third and final meeting with Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium. The elder Conrad had been a close friend of Ali for over a decade, one of the founders of the Boxing Writers Association and an instrumental force in getting a young Cassius Clay his first title shot against Sonny Liston. Budd Schulburg, author of "The Harder They Fall," reported that he had based the part of the cynical press agent on Conrad, played by Humphrey Bogart in the movie. Conrad also promoted Evel Knievel's famous Snake River Canyon jump attempt.

    It was this long friendship between Ali and Conrad that brought this remarkable artifact into the possession of our consignor, an expression of gratitude for the essential role Conrad had played in the Champ's rise to prominence. It's a rather fitting gift considering Conrad's many years in sports journalism, as the award is issued every year by New York City sportwriters to the best in the prize ring. The text reads:

    "The Edward J. Neil Memorial for Outstanding Service to Boxing in 1975, Presented by Boxing Writers' Association of New York to Muhammad Ali."

    At top of the design is an image of Neil, a former sportswriter who was killed in combat after transitioning to the role of war correspondent in coverage of the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

    Certainly the award was issued to Ali for the 1975 calendar year primarily for his unforgettable performance in his third and final meeting with Joe Frazier in a fight known to history as "The Thrilla in Manila." It is just the second Neil Award we have handled here at Heritage, the first being the debut model presented to Jack Dempsey in 1938. The presented Ali representation survives in marvelous condition, with "Lambert Brothers Jewelers, New York" makers marks on reverse. The Neil Award is widely considered to rate second only to a Championship belt in the boxing awards hierarchy, and since none of Ali's belts have ever entered the collectibles market, this is literally the most significant Ali award ever offered. DImensions 10.5x15.5". Letter of provenance from son of Harold Conrad.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2014
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,415

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