A signed pair of Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves belonging to a British family he befriended on a visit to the North East in 1977 are among memorabilia expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction.
The collection, which will go under the hammer at Anderson and Garland Auctioneers in Newcastle on Thursday, also includes an audio cassette from August 1977, in which Ali can be heard reciting a poem about his forthcoming fight with Earnie Shavers.
The items belong to the Clay family, who formed a close bond with the boxer when he made a visit to the North East in 1977. The family had been introduced to Ali though his official photographer for the visit, Kenneth Pope of Turners Photography.
Among the collection of Muhammad Ali memorabilia set to go under the hammer on Thursday is a pair of signed yellow Lonsdale boxing gloves dated August 11, 1977
A long-term friendship followed, which saw the couple invited to the wedding blessing of Ali and his wife Veronica in South Shields in July 1977, despite having only known the superstar for a matter of days.
The couple were given the Alis’ boxing-ring-shaped wedding cake topper from the event, which is also featured in the lot.
The family are no relation to the late boxer, who changed his name from Cassius Clay in 1964 after converting to Islam.
Fred Wyrley-Birch, director at Anderson and Garland, said: ‘Whenever you hear that name the hackles on the back of your neck go up.
The items belong to the Clay family, who formed a close bond with the boxer when he made a visit to the North East in 1977
The collection also includes an audio cassette from August 1977, in which Ali can be heard reciting a poem about his forthcoming fight with Earnie Shavers
‘When looking at these items you automatically think, could this be something really personal to him? Or is this something he just signed quickly while on a parade of champions?
‘But low and behold, with this collection, it’s both. The Clay family had got to know him very closely and there are very personal items here which belonged to him.’
Among the collection is a pair of signed yellow Lonsdale boxing gloves dated August 11, 1977, a 1976 Olympic $100 Canadian boxed gold coin, Ali’s boxing gown and tickets from the Ali vs Spinks fight in New Orleans in 1978.
Items also include the Clay family’s invitations to a wedding blessing of Ali and his wife Veronica (bottom right)
A boxing-ring-shaped wedding cake topper from Ali and Veronica’s wedding is also set to go under the hammer (Pictured with Fred Wyrley-Birch, director at Anderson and Garland)
There is also an audio cassette, recorded on August 12, 1977, in which Ali can be heard reciting a poem about his upcoming fight with Earnie Shavers. The cassette is signed and dedicated to Mrs Clay.
Ali introduces it as: ‘A poem from Muhammad Ali on how this fight will sound over your radio for those who can’t get to the telly.’
The collection of items is valued at between £10,000 and £15,000.
Muhammed Ali is widely considered one of the greatest sportsmen of the 20th century and is the most celebrated boxer of all time.
Ali’s boxing gown (left) and tickets from the Ali vs Spinks fight in New Orleans in 1978 are also in the collection
Muhammed Ali is widely considered one of the greatest sportsmen of the 20th century and is the most celebrated boxer of all time (Pictured, Ali and his then-wife Veronica)
He was a civil rights campaigner and was well known for his one-liners such as: ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’
Mr Wyrley-Birch added: ‘It is really emotive stuff, it’s so personal to him. It’s exactly the sort of thing this man did on very few occasions, when he felt a true affinity with somebody.
‘There’s no real reason for it. They are completely different in so many ways. They are a different religion, different race, from a different country and a different age.
The boxer’s wedding blessing ceremony in South Shields, South Tyneside, with the boxing ring cake topper in July 1977
‘There is very little that is similar between them apart from the respect that they showed each other when they met and the love and relationship that blossomed from there.
‘It really is a very very emotive family connection to the greatest boxer of all time.
‘The collection we are auctioning offers a glimpse into the world of a boxer whose phenomenal sporting career and successful approach to courting media attention resulted in an adoring fan base worldwide, despite the more controversial aspects of his life.
‘Lot 1566 is testament to an enduring friendship made during one of his tours and we expect competition to be fierce.’