Ali 'Fight of the Century' gloves up for auction

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The gloves that boxing legend Muhammad Ali wore in his fabled 1971 "Fight of the Century" against Joe Frazier are on the block, a US auction house said on Tuesday.

The opening bid will be US$125,000 (S$155,430), said Heritage Auctions, and can be made at through July 30. Then they will be sold the following day at Cleveland's House of Blues.

Ali was born Cassius Clay and was still using that name when he had his first fight with Frazier. Though he lost, Ali would get his revenge in rematches in 1974 and 1975.

At the time Frazier was world heavyweight champ.

The "Fight of the Century" marked Ali's big return to the ring after coming out against the Vietnam War and converting to Islam.

"It was a controversial fight at a controversial time in America and the bout took on distinctly political and cultural overtones. These gloves are more than sports memorabilia; they're artifacts of early 1970s American pop culture," said Chris Ivy, who handles sport memorabilia for Heritage.

"The country was polarised around the match: those who supported the Vietnam War and the failing cause of racial segregation vs. the anti-war crowd and those who favoured the Civil Rights movement."

The gloves come from the estate of Angelo Dundee, Ali's longtime trainer.

They were last sold at auction in 2012.

Another pair of gloves Ali wore in his first clash with Sonny Liston in 1964 fetched a record US$836,500 in February.

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