Muhammad Ali memorabilia, including ‘Fight of the Century’ gloves, to be auctioned off


For more than 30 years, Jeff Rosenberg has been collecting Muhammad Ali memorabilia, having never sold a single piece.

But Friday, the collector and owner of Houston-based sports memorabilia company Tri-Star, said he was parting with some of his most cherished pieces, including the gloves Ali wore for the “Fight Of The Century” against Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden in 1971.

The gloves will be part of a Goldin Auctions sale, which begins next Monday and closes August 4.

Rosenberg bought the gloves in August 2014 for $388,375, which was considered a steal. The next day, he was asked to resell them at a handsome profit, but he turned the offer down. Just months before, the gloves Ali used in his first fight against Sonny Liston in 1964 sold for $836,500.

Rosenberg is only the second owner of the gloves in the 45 years since the fight. The gloves were supposed to become property of L.A. talent agent Jerry Perenchio, who had backed the fight using money from Jack Kent Cooke.

After cutting them off after the fight, in which Ali lost after 15 rounds, trainer and cornerman Angelo Dundee brought them home, where they remained until his death in 2012. The interior of the Everlast gloves are labeled and signed by Dundee.


Muhammad Ali's gloves

“When these last sold, it was clearly an an aberration,” said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions. “This one just slipped through the cracks. But with Ali’s passing and the recognition once again, not only of his greatness as a boxer but as a world leader, things have now changed.”

Both Ali and Frazier were undefeated heading into the fight, as this was Ali’s second fight back after he was absent from boxing for 3 1/2 years for his refusal to enter the draft.

Goldin expects bidding to surpass the $1 million mark.

For his part, Rosenberg said he isn’t happy to be getting rid of the gloves.

“No matter what the price, there’s going to be a sense of loss,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a connection to the greatest fight.”

Rosenberg has also consigned a torch from the 1996 Olympics — signed by Ali as both Ali and Cassius Clay — to the auction.

Ali died on June 3 after a 30-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.