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Muhammad Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle' belt sells for $6.18M in auction

Muhammad Ali rocks George Foreman with a hard right during their heavyweight title bout on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali knocked Foreman out in the eighth round to regain his heavyweight crown. File Photo by UPI | License Photo

July 25 (UPI) — Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from the historic “Rumble in the Jungle” bout has sold at auction for more than $6 million.

With a bid of $6.18 million, Jim Irsay, philanthropist and owner of the Indianapolis Colts, won ownership of the 1974 World Boxing Council heavyweight belt early Sunday, Heritage Auctions said in a release, adding it was the highest bid it has secured for a sports collectible.

The belt was one of thousands of sports memorabilia put up for sale by Heritage Auctions over the weekend, and its owner was decided following hours of bidding.

“After several hours of watching two bidders go back and forth over this belt, this proved to be a battle worthy of the Rumble itself,” Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports auctions, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled this extraordinary piece of boxing history — of sports history, of cultural history — found such an exceptional caretaker who will now share it with the rest of the world.”

Irsay confirmed via Twitter that he was the new owner of the belt and said it will join the rest of his collection of U.S. history and pop culture artifacts, including other iconic Ali pieces, which are to be displayed Aug. 2 at Chicago’s Navy Pier and Sept. 9 in Indianapolis.

“Proud to be the steward!” he said.

Ali won the belt — which was his second of three championship titles — on Oct. 30, 1974, by besting then-undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion George Foreman with an eighth-round knockout that followed a display of his now-iconic rope-a-dope fighting tactic.

The victory also came nearly seven years after Ali was stripped of his first title and had his boxing license suspended over his defiance against being drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War.