When considering the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, there is “no contest” when making the argument that Muhammad Ali is at the top of the list. Widely acknowledged as “The Greatest,” serious boxing memorabilia collectors regularily pay special attention to fight-worn material used by the great Ali. It is that mindset that brings us to one of the featured pieces in Heritage Auctions’ April Signature auction — 1960 Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) AAU Championship Fight Worn Gloves. These early mitts carry the conservative estimate of $20,000+, and are one of very few items from Clay’s amateur days ever to appear at auction.
As one of the leading forces in the boxing world for the advancement of the black race, it’s poetic that young Cassius Clay’s victory on April 9, 1960 to claim the National AAU light heavyweight boxing Championship would come in a second-round stoppage of a fighter named Jeff Davis, surely named for the President of the vanquished American Confederacy. The victory would be Clay’s last noteworthy accomplishment before claiming the Gold Medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics months later.
As is the case with most of the early Clay material in the modern hobby, these gloves derive from the trophy cases of Louisville’s Columbia Street Gym and the personal collection of Joe Martin, who took a young Clay under his wing and introduced him to the sport which would earn his immortality. A letter of provenance from internationally renowned boxing memorabilia expert Craig Hamilton attests to the background of the ten ounce relics.
The gloves are burgundy leather with a white “Rawlings” label at each wrist, and an “AAU” tag denoting glove weight at interior right wrist. Each interior wrist bears commission stamping reading “Nat’l Toledo 1960 Approved,” and are initialed by the commission inspectors. Original laces are present. Wear is light but definite, most evident in sweat staining of the interior, as is appropriate for brief amateur tournament use. A rare and very special opportunity to own genuine fight worn gear from the early evolution of boxing’s greatest name.