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    David fells Goliath in the historic "Rumble in the Jungle!"

    1974 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Trunks from "The Rumble in the Jungle!" vs. George Foreman. It's arguably the most famous bout in boxing history, a dramatic battle in Kinshasa, Zaire pitting the seemingly irresistible ferocity of reigning Heavyweight Champion George Foreman against the wily resurgence of underdog Ali, a former Champion charting his return to the sport's mountain top after having been stripped of his belt seven years earlier. But far more than simple athletic supremacy was at stake as the world turned its eyes to the Dark Continent. The "Rumble in the Jungle" captivated the imagination of an American populace deeply divided in its allegiances, in this case mostly related to perceptions regarding Ali's patriotism in light of his controversial Vietnam War stance, and the relative "authentic blackness" of the two combatants.

    Hall of Fame boxing sportswriter Larry Merchant, who covered Ali's entire career and whose young, shocked face can be seen in the crowd behind the Champion as he stands over Sonny Liston in the famous 1965 Neil Leifer photograph, recounted a fascinating tale about the bout recently on the HBO program, "The Fight Game." Like most experts, Merchant had expected that Foreman would trounce his challenger in Zaire, believing that the fight would not only be a crushing defeat for Ali, but likely the end of his membership in the upper echelon of the sport. But, as he traveled across to Africa with Ali's entourage, the former Champion whispered something to him that made him think that there may be a trick hidden up his sleeve:

    "If he doesn't get me in seven," Ali said, "his parachute won't open."

    We all know how the story played out--for the better part of seven rounds, Muhammad Ali leaned against the ropes in a defensive shell, weathering the whirlwind of punches that rarely found soft flesh, instead glancing off the former Champ's arms and shoulders. This "Rope-a-Dope" strategy worked like a charm, and when Ali sensed that Foreman's aggression was subsiding to exhaustion in the oppressive African heat, he unleashed his own quick fury of blows, sending the Goliath cartwheeling to the canvas for a stunning eighth-round knockout.

    It's a remarkable story not only in the context of a prophecy fulfilled, but also considering the manner in which the fight turned the page to a new chapter in the story of Muhammad Ali's greatness. A decade after he had first claimed the sport's throne with speed and agility unprecedented within the Heavyweight ranks, the aging legend had entered the next phase of his career in which wisdom and durability would carry the day. It was a complete redefinition of the sport's most celebrated practitioner.

    It is difficult to overstate the significance of the offered lot, both for its participation in one of the most important sporting events of the twentieth century, and for its service as the fulcrum upon which the lever of Ali's legend turned. It appears in the iconic pugilist's most recognizable style--white satin with black trim, bearing the "Made Expressly for Muhammad Ali" text upon its "Everlast" manufacturer's label. A few spots of age toning appear on verso to no real distraction, and the deep black has mellowed to a delectable shade of bronze over the years. In every regard, the trunks perfectly match film and photography from the contest.

    Provenance is supplied in the form of a signed letter from Ali's business manager Gene Kilroy, who affirms his ownership of the trunks between the date of the bout and July 29, 1992 when he sold them to famed boxing collector Ronnie Paloger. Five years later, the trunks were a featured lot in Christie's 1997 auction of "The Paloger Collection of Muhammad Ali Memorabilia." A copy of the winning bidder's invoice is included. Finally, a 2016 letter of examination by leading boxing memorabilia expert Craig Hamilton confirms the trunks' elite significance. Letter of provenance from Muhammad Ali's business manager Gene Kilroy. 1997 Christie's invoice for original sale at auction. LOA from Craig Hamiliton. LOA from Heritage Auctions.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    10th Saturday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,808

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