An NFL owner has just purchased a rare championship belt won by Muhammad Ali in the legendary 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight for millions of dollars.
On Sunday (July 24), Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed that he bought Ali’s historic WBC belt for $6.18 million dollars.
“Proud to be the steward!” Irsay tweeted following his auction purchase.
The heavyweight champion secured the title by using his rope-a-dope tactic for the first time ever. Ali leaned against the ropes to appear tired, only to knock Foreman out in the eighth round with a barrage of shots.
A crowd of 60,000 people witnessed the fight famously known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.” The legendary fight was reportedly watched by 1 billion viewers worldwide, making it the most watched live television broadcast at the time.
“Rumble in the Jungle” is also regarded as Ali’s boxing comeback after his boxing license and World Boxing Association title were taken due to the champ refusing to join the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
“Why should me and other negros go 10,000 miles away from home here in America to drop bombs and bullets on other innocent Brown people who’ve never bothered us, and I will say directly no, I will not go 10,000 miles to go help kill innocent people,” Ali said at a press conference at the time.
The “Rumble in the Jungle” belt is one of two WBC belts belonging to Ali after the fight that are known to exist, CNN reports. The remaining belts are kept in a private collection.
Irsay’s purchase marks the highest price for a sports collectible sold at Heritage Auctions.
“After several hours of watching two bidders go back and forth over this belt, this proved to be a battle worthy of the Rumble itself,” Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions, said in a statement.
“We’re just thrilled this extraordinary piece of boxing history — of sports history, of cultural history — found such an exceptional caretaker who will now share it with the rest of the world.”