These gloves are now on offer on the first day of Graham Budd’s May 15-16 auction held at Sotheby’s in New Bond Street, London.
They were worn in the World Heavyweight Championship bout versus Joe Bugner in Kuala Lumpur on June 30, 1975, and are estimated at £40,000-60,000.
The gloves were originally in the private collection of Robert Paterson (1940-91), a London impresario in the 1960s and ‘70s promoting top acts and performers including Igor Stravinsky, Andre Previn, Duke Ellington, Shirley Bassey, Barry Manilow, Petula Clark, Neil Diamond and many others.
He was also business associate of Jarvis Astaire of Viewsport,who had famously brought Muhammad Ali over to England in 1966 to defend his heavy weight title against Henry Cooper and also presented live UK cinema screenings of major boxing matches from all around the world - including the Ali v Bugner fight in 1975.
The gloves were gifted by Paterson to the present consignor, his cousin’s son and his mother’s godson, when he was still a teenager in 1982. They are also being sold with a signed letter of provenance from the present vendor.
The vendor recalls: “In 1982 I met Robert on a family visit. He wanted to surprise me with a special gift. He asked me if I liked Neil Diamond. As I was only 12 years old, I told him as politely as I could that Neil Diamond wasn't really the type of music I was listening to. Unbeknown to me, he was going to give me a signed Neil Diamond tour jacket.
“He then asked do you like boxing? I said yes. He then produced a pair of boxing gloves and told me that these were the gloves worn by Muhammad Ali in his world title fight with Joe Bugner in Kuala Lumpur in July 1975, a fight promoted in the UK by Viewsport. I was absolutely thrilled as he told me all about the gloves and pointed out the autographs of Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner.”
The distinctive pair of red Winning S.S FP-800, Tokyo, 10oz boxing gloves with original lacing are signed on the right-hand glove in the inside wrist by Ali in ink, and to the outside of the glove in ink by Bugner and inscribed K.L., 1.7.75 (the day after the fight), the left-hand glove signed to the outside by Ali, dated 75 and further inscribed in the hand of Ali.
This was the second occasion that Ali and Bugner met in the ring. The first fight on February 14, 1973, had been closely contested with Ali securing a narrow win. Ali was awarded the second fight on a unanimous decision, with his opponent remarking: “Well, gents, we tried.” Ali's victory set up a third fight with Joe Frazier, the famous Thrilla in Manilla.
Thomas Hauser, Ali’s biographer, recalls an amusing incident regarding the gloves in Malaysia: “... the most endearing tale of Muhammad Ali and gloves dates to his 1975 encounter with Joe Bugner in Malaysia. That happening was notable for the pre-fight rules meeting.
After going through the normal, interminably boring regulatory minutiae, the local commissioner announced that the fighters’ gloves would be held in a local prison until the day of the fight. That got Ali’s attention. ‘Wait a minute,’ Muhammad interrupted. ‘You're putting my gloves in jail? This is awful. How can you do that? How can you put my gloves in jail? They ain’t done nothing (Ali pauses) yet!’ .“
As so often in the auctions world, successful results can tease out more consignments on the same theme: the gift that keeps on giving approach, or “the auction domino effect” as Budd terms it.
“We are delighted to be offering these hugely important gloves” says Budd. “Any fight-worn gloves by the great man are highly desirable and there have been spectacular prices at auction for similar items.”
Two Graham Budd auction results last year were key to securing this latest consignment.
The gloves worn by Henry Cooper when he became the first boxer to put Cassius Clay down on the canvas during their match at Wembley Stadium on June 18, 1963, sold for £85,000 on April 25.
In November 7, the boxing trunks worn by Clay in that same fight made £70,000 (this second lot had been consigned on the back of the gloves result).
Also on May 15-16, Budd is offering the Everlast boxing trunks worn by Ali during his World Heavyweight Title fight v Jimmy Young on April 30, 1976, in Landover, Maryland. The satin trunks are white with black trim with the maker’s label on the front elasticated waistband, reading the Everlast, Made in U.S.A., Made Expressly For MUHAMMAD ALI. They are estimated at £20,000-30,000.
Ali won his fight against Jimmy Young through a 15-round unanimous decision.
It was around 1972 that boxing equipment manufacturer Everlast began to supply Ali with specially made equipment produced exclusively for him by the company with this special tagging. The only other instance where the equipment giant had previously administered such exclusive labelling was for boxing legend Joe Louis.