NFL team owner purchases rare Muhammad Ali belt for millions

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay added boxing gold to his impressive collection Sunday.

Irsay bought Muhammad Ali’s WBC heavyweight championship belt from when the boxing legend defeated George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” bout in Zaire in 1974.

“BREAKING—-Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ just added to @IrsayCollection,” Irsay tweeted.  “Just in time for the Aug. 2 show at Chicago’s Navy Pier (and Sept. 9 at Indy). Proud to be the steward.”

Jim Irsay in 2019

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay talks to fans during the Dwight Freeney induction to the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium Nov. 10, 2019, in Indianapolis. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Irsay bought the belt for more than $6.1 million, according to Heritage Auctions.

“Two Muhammad Ali WBC belts are known to exist, one in a private museum collection unlikely to ever see the hobby’s auction block. The only other known surviving Muhammad Ali heavyweight championship belt on Earth is presented here,” Heritage Auction said in its description.

Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Ungle

George Foreman, left, and Muhammad Ali boxing at Zaire Stade du 20 Mai, “The Rumble in the Jungle,” Oct. 30, 1974. (Ken Regan /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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“But the historical significance of the piece, arguably the most important boxing award ever made available at public auction, is quite simply immeasurable. Far more than just a trophy of elite athletic achievement, this belt serves as a mute witness to Muhammad Ali’s undaunted pursuit of justice itself and as a symbol of the myriad complexities of race, religion and patriotism that challenge all of us to this day. It is a truly priceless artifact of the American experience and of an American life as consequential as any thus far lived.”

Irsay has amassed a massive collection of memorabilia. He bought Ali’s shoes from the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975 and Ali’s robe from when he fought Sonny Liston in 1965, the first fight after he changed his name from Cassius Clay.

Muhammad Ali takes on George Foreman

Muhammad Ali, right, throws a punch at George Foreman in the heavyweight championship fight Oct. 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali won and reclaimed his title. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Aside from the Ali relics, Irsay also has Ringo Starr’s drumhead from one of the Beatles’ performances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1974, George Harrison’s Gibson SG played on some of The Beatles’ most famous records and historic pieces like the recommendation for the first Thanksgiving to be observed in the U.S. from 1777.

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