Muhammad Ali’s Shorts From The Epic “Thrilla in Manila” Expected To Fetch $6 Million At Auction

By James Slater - 04/05/2024 - Comments

It perhaps ranks as the single most violent, action-packed, and brutally punishing of all world heavyweight title fights. Manila, October 1st 1975 – Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier Part III. Both men paid dearly for the ordeal they put themselves and each other through, winner Ali in particular; Ali’s health going downhill at a disturbingly rapid rate after the fight, with plenty of people believing that those 14 hellish rounds with Frazier contributed greatly to Ali’s damaged state.

Now, at Sotheby’s, someone is going to pay a whole lot of money to purchase the white satin shorts Ali wore during the fight. The amount of money the trunks are expected to pull in is anywhere between $4 and $6million. The shorts, signed by Ali and his long-time corner-man/witch doctor, Drew “Bundini” Brown, went up for auction yesterday says a news story from CNN.

Interestingly, the shorts initially went up for auction back in 1988 – for a mere $1,000. Found in the storage locker of the by now deceased Brown, Ali’s shorts have since been auctioned numerous times, the last time in 2012, when they went for $150,000. It’s easy to see how Ali’s legend, and the value of sports memorabilia itself, has grown and grown over the years.

Whoever it is that buys the shorts this time around, it is to be hoped they fully appreciate what they have purchased. But can anybody ever possibly fully appreciate, or understand, what Ali and Frazier went through that morning in Manila all those years ago? Much has been written about “The Thrilla in Manila,” how Frazier really did hate his tormentor Ali, to the extent that “Smokin’ Joe” was willing to fight him to the death. No exaggeration. Frazier, battered, exhausted and for all intents and purposes blind at the end of the 14th round, pleaded with his trainer/corner-man Eddie Futch to allow him out for the 15th and final round.

But Futch, sensing the very real possibility of a fatality, was firm. The fight/war/slugfest for the ages was over. Ali collapsed a second or two after getting the news, “The Greatest” going down in his own corner, as shattered as Frazier was. We will never know if Ali would have made it out for that final round if he had had to do so. Ali won the series with Frazier, 2-1, but no two fighters have ever been so evenly matched. Together, Ali and Frazier gave their sport something that will never be seen again.

Wherever those Ali shorts wind up, they should be displayed for all to see.