A signed pair of Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves belonging to a British family he befriended on a visit to the North East in 1977 are among memorabilia expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction.
The collection, which will go under the hammer at Anderson and Garland Auctioneers in Newcastle on Thursday, also includes an audio cassette from August 1977, in which Ali can be heard reciting a poem about his forthcoming fight with Earnie Shavers.
The items belong to the Clay family, who formed a close bond with the boxer when he made a visit to the North East in 1977. The family had been introduced to Ali though his official photographer for the visit, Kenneth Pope of Turners Photography.
A long-term friendship followed, which saw the couple invited to the wedding blessing of Ali and his wife Veronica in South Shields in July 1977, despite having only known the superstar for a matter of days.
The couple were given the Alis’ boxing-ring-shaped wedding cake topper from the event, which is also featured in the lot.
Fred Wyrley-Birch, director at Anderson and Garland, said: ‘Whenever you hear that name the hackles on the back of your neck go up.
‘When looking at these items you automatically think, could this be something really personal to him? Or is this something he just signed quickly while on a parade of champions?
‘But low and behold, with this collection, it’s both. The Clay family had got to know him very closely and there are very personal items here which belonged to him.’
Among the collection is a pair of signed yellow Lonsdale boxing gloves dated August 11, 1977, a 1976 Olympic $100 Canadian boxed gold coin, Ali’s boxing gown and tickets from the Ali vs Spinks fight in New Orleans in 1978.