September 17, 2013 (Newswire.com) - A unique, personally signed contract for the October 1970 fight between Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry has been acquired by Sports Online, Australia's premier retailer of authentic sports memorabilia.
According to Sydney-based Sports Online's CEO Dr Dave Poole, the contract may be one of the most valuable Muhammad Ali artifacts now held within an Australian connection.
"The contract, which relates to the rights to the TV, radio, and motion picture rights to the Ali-Quarry fight, was last sold as part of the famed Paloger Collection of Muhammad Ali Memorabilia by Christie's in Los Angeles on 19 October, 1997. At that time, the Christie's catalogue listed its value as US$10,000 to US$15,000.
"There are several reasons why this contract represents real boxing (and, indeed, sporting) history. First, the fight with Quarry was Muhammad Ali's first bout after 3 years out of the ring, having been banned for his principled opposition to the Vietnam War and to being drafted. It was thus a key fight in the lead-up to his first bout with Joe Frazier in March 1971 and to his eventual return to the World Championship. He did not become World Heavyweight Champion again until beating George Foreman in the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight in Zaire in 1974.
"Next, Muhammad Ali has signed the contract 'Muhammad Ali AKA Cassius Clay'. This is extremely interesting given that Ali had changed his name from Cassius Clay in 1964, some 6 years prior to the contract. Research (primarily from the Ali biographers Thomas Hauser and Dr Ferdie Pacheco) indicates that, during 1969, Ali's spiritual guide, the Honourable Elijah Muhammad (who, to add a coincidence, was formerly known as Elijah Poole before changing his own name!), disassociated his Muslim sect from boxing and, by extension, from Ali, stating 'We will call him Cassius Clay. We take away the name of Allah from him until he proves himself worthy of that name.' While disappointed, Muhammad Ali showed no bitterness at this decision.
"Thus, even though there was no later edict from Elijah Muhammad redressing this ruling, the sect appeared to 'forgive and forget' when Ali returned to boxing in 1970 against Quarry. As Pacheco writes, 'the Muslims conveniently forgot that Ali had been banned and joyfully hopped aboard the Ali Circus money-wagon'. Given this ambiguity, then, it is not surprising that Ali signed the Quarry contract using both names, Muhammad Ali and Cassius Clay.
"Finally, it is worthy of note that the contract stipulates that a donation of US$50,000 will be made by the parties to the contract to a charity of the Mayor of Atlanta's choice. Such generosity is consistent with many of Ali's actions on behalf of the needy. As another boxing legend, George Foreman, states in his website's tribute to Ali, 'He (Ali) made the unwanted, the unloved have something they never had before - dignity. Yes, we'd all look in the mirror and because of him say "I know I look good." We learned to put our foot down and say "no." We'd clinch our fists, even as I did: wave my flag, and say "I don't care what you say about me, or do to me. I did it because I was compelled and I believe in it." I say boxing is too small for Muhammad Ali. He changes the very world. No other boxer could do that. He used to say, "I am pretty." Not so man ... you are beautiful. He would say, "I am the king." Not so mister ... kings come and go. You are what America really stands for, the very word Liberty.'
"So, I'm not sure when, or even if, I'll sell this piece of Ali history. Among with our many other unique Ali pieces, however, this will make a great collection even greater, and it's a collection I love to share with sports journalists and lovers of great sports memorabilia who visit our office," Dr Poole concluded.