The boxing gloves that Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, used to deliver the infamous ‘Phantom Punch’ against his opponent Sonny Liston fetched almost a million dollars in an auction held in New York.
The fight ensued in Lewiston, Maine on 25th May, 1965 between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. It was a re-match after Liston lost the first to Ali a year ago by giving up in the seventh-round. A year later, the both stood in the ring once again to decide fate, but it didn’t take Ali long enough to retain his crown as the king of the boxing arena.
The re-match is ranked fourth in the list of the greatest sports moments of the twentieth century. The game started with Liston trying to throw a jab at Ali on the left side; however Ali dodged it and successfully delivered a punch from the right. The punch, although unseen by many spectators due to its angle, knocked down Liston. Joe Walcott, the referee of the match had to push Muhammad Ali to a neutral corner, who was standing near his fallen opponent, yelling and challenging him to get up. The moment was captured by Neil Lefier in a historic image which later became the cover of Sports Illustrated’s special issue on ‘The Century’s Greatest Sports Photos’. Ali and Liston can be seen wearing the gloves which were auctioned.
After the match, the gloves from both the boxers were taken into custody of the Boxing Commissioner of Maine, George Russo. The gloves were later sold to a collector in California. Recently, the gloves were presented at an auction by Heritage Auction along with a Sworn Affidavit and letter from Muhammad Ali authenticating the gloves. Bagging a whopping $956,000, the gloves are considered as one of the most prized sports products from the twentieth century. It is worth mentioning that both pairs of gloves were signed by Muhammad Ali in 1995 on the 30th anniversary of this world-famous bout.
The gloves were auctioned along with a century-old signed photo from Shoeless Joe Jackson, which ended up at $179,000 in the same auction