"Closest thing to dying that I know of." -- Muhammad Ali, after the fight.1975 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Trunks from the Thrilla in Manila. There was no breeze coming in from the South China Sea, and the air conditioning system at Araneta Coliseum was useless. The reported temperature was 107 degrees. "Oppressive," Ali cornerman Ferdie Pacheco described the thick air that hung over the ring, "I had a hard time breathing. Not only were all the seats filled, all the aisles were filled and there were people crammed in the rafters. I don't know if you could squeeze in one more person. It was body to body." It was the perfect, hellish setting for a meeting of two of the most determined and iron-jawed Heavyweights ever to face off between the ring ropes, who together authored what is arguably the most famous and dramatic bout in boxing history.
They had called the first meeting between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier "The Fight of the Century," and it had lived up to that billing. The rematch was a decidedly less compelling affair, and Ali's controversial split decision victory left the boxing world clamoring for a satisfying and definitive conclusion. In Manila, they would find it.
For fourteen rounds in the boiling heat of Southeast Asia, these two iconic Heavyweight Champions waged a war of brutal attrition, Frazier withstanding Ali's deft and elusive early glovework, never slowing his forward progress, never going down. Ali had hoped and expected to make it a quick fight, certain that Frazier's recent decisive loss to Foreman was an indication of his decline. "Joe, they told me you was all washed up," Ali grunted during a seventh-round clinch. "They told you wrong, pretty boy," Frazier growled back.
The tide was beginning to turn, and Frazier dominated the middle rounds. Ali countered with sporadic flurries, and even tried without success to use the "rope-a-dope" strategy that had stymied George Foreman in Zaire, but Frazier was relentless in his onslaught and it appeared that Ali would soon surrender his title.
But somehow, in that hailstorm of blows, the Champion found a second wind, and, once again, the fight shifted on its bloody axis. Ali started to land power shots, and Frazier's legs started to wobble. With Frazier's left eye swollen to a slit, he stood helpless against Ali's straight right. A minute into round thirteen, Ali landed a thudding combination that sent Frazier's mouthpiece spinning into the crowd. Frazier's right eye likewise swelled to a close. Yet he returned for the fourteenth, able to do little more than absorb punishment. He returned to the corner at the bell to trainer Eddie Futch, who told him he'd seen enough. "I want him, boss!" Frazier protested. "It's all over," Futch replied. "No one will forget what you did here today." Ali biographer Thomas Hauser revealed later that Ali had returned to his own corner at the end of the fourteenth telling trainer Angelo Dundee to cut off his gloves. He, too, had had enough.
Here we present the most significant artifact from the Thrilla in Manila ever to reach the public auction block, the white satin Everlast trunks worn by Muhammad Ali as he inflicted and endured the most brutal beatings ever witnessed in a Heavyweight Championship bout. The trunks were retained by Ali's assistant and close friend Drew "Bundini" Brown, and it is his handwriting we find in black marker on the front: "Ali - Frazier Fight, Trilla (sic) in Manila, Pres. F. Marcos, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 1, 1975." Unbelievably, the trunks were left abandoned in Brown's storage locker after his passing in September of 1987, and sold in an auction for non-payment of fees in April of 1988. They have since been thoroughly researched by leading boxing collectibles expert Craig Hamilton, who writes "I have matched these trunks to video from the fight and color still photographs from the fight and the trunks compare favorably in every detail...Based on all research performed on these trunks it is my opinion these trunks are the actual trunks worn by Muhammad Ali in his fight with Joe Frazier on October 1, 1975." Accompanying the original storage locker auction form and Hamilton's letter of authenticity is an original copy of the October 13, 1975 edition of Sports Illustrated picturing Ali on the cover wearing these very trunks, as well as an original copy of the 35th anniversary edition of Sports Illustrated with Ali on the cover, published on November 15, 1989. It pictures and identifies the trunks ( "The trunks Ali wore in Manila now bears Bundini's scrawl.") in the gallery of historic Ali fight-worn items.
The trunks are professionally matted and framed to dimensions of 28x35", and signed in 10/10 black sharpie by Ali. LOA from Craig Hamilton. Full LOA from PSA/DNA (autograph). Full LOA from James Spence Authentication (autograph). LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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