Sotheby's postpones auction of Ali's 'Thrilla in Manila' trunks

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Trunks worn by Muhammad Ali from his third fight vs Joe Frazier (Credit: Getty Images)

After taking the lot down from their website, a Sotheby’s official told cllct on Friday afternoon that the auction house would be postponing the sale of Muhammad Ali’s trunks from “Thrilla in Manila.”

In a statement provided by a Sotheby’s spokesperson, the auction house said it would delay the sale “until further notice,” to allow the consignor to “pursue additional public viewing opportunities.”

As of Thursday night, the top bid was $3.8 million, without buyer’s premium, which had not met the reserve.

Sotheby’s had placed an estimate of between $4 million and $6 million on the piece of memorabilia from one of the most famous boxing events in history.

“Thrilla” was the third and final bout between Ali and Frazier. Ali won it by TKO after the fight, which took place in Oct. 1975, was stopped by the referee before the beginning of the 15th round.

This would have been the fifth time the shorts — which are signed by Ali and inscribed by his assistant trainer and corner man Drew “Bundini” Brown — sold.

In 1988, they were discovered in Brown’s storage locker after his death and auctioned for under $1,000. Most recently, they sold twice in 2012: First at Robert Edward Auction for $118,500, then again at Heritage Auctions for $155,350.

“It is among the most important items of sports memorabilia to come to market and was much admired by viewers prior to the sale, so we are thrilled that the consignor has chosen to continue to share these historically significant trunks publicly and seek more venues for public exhibition,” a Sotheby’s official said when the pair was first brought to market.

Details regarding the identity of the consigner or specifics of planned exhibitions are not known at this time.

Ali’s boots from “Thrilla” were sold to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who bought them for $150,000 in 2020.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct. You can follow him on X at @Will__Stern.