Muhammad Ali’s gloves, which he wore to win his first heavyweight crown, went on auction on Saturday, three days before the 50th anniversary of that epic fight against Sonny Liston.
The gloves, which were worn by the then rookie fighter from Kentucky – known at that time as Cassius Clay – launched him into a legendary boxing career which made him one of the most, if not the most, famous boxer of all time.
Muhammad Ali was renowned in his time for talking the talk as well as walking the walk. In his title fight against Liston he taunted his opponent before the fight: “Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can’t talk. The man can’t fight. The man needs talking lessons. The man needs boxing lessons. And since he’s going to fight me, he needs falling lessons.”
On that epic day back on February 25, 1964 Ali won the title in the seventh round, screaming and jumping with joy, arms proudly in the air. After the fight Ali said to reporters confidently: “I shook up the world. Everyone predicted Sonny Liston would destroy me. And he was scary. But it’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges and I believed in myself.”
The very next day, to the great surprise of many, Cassius Clay announced that he was becoming a Muslim, and was changing his name to Muhammad Ali. The following year, Ali knocked Liston out again in the very first round of a fight in Maine.
He managed to defend his title an impressive eight times before he was stripped of it and banned from boxing for three and half years because of his refusal to be inducted into the US Army.
Three years later the US Supreme Court overturned that controversial ruling, and Muhammad Ali went on to win the title twice more.