Muhammad Ali’s ‘Thrilla In Manilla’ Boxing Trunks Expected To Fetch Millions At Auction

The trunks Muhammad Ali wore in arguably the greatest boxing match of all-time will be going up for auction. Ali’s “Thrilla in Manila” trunks are expected to fetch between $4 to $6 million.

Sotheby’s will be offering these trunks as part of its Sports Week auction beginning March 27.

“The white satin trunks feature a black trim at the waistband and black piping running down the side of each leg,” says Sotheby’s in the description lot. “The trunks are inscribed by Ali’s assistant trainer and corner man, Drew ‘Bundini’ Brown” and signed by Ali in black sharpie.”

Muhammad Ali "Thrilla in Manilla" boxing trunks
Muhammad Ali “Thrilla in Manilla” boxing trunks. (credit: Sotheby’s)

The “Thrilla in Manilla” was the culmination of a trilogy of fights between the charismatic Ali and Joe Frazier. The first epic bout — dubbed “The Fight of the Century — between the two happened in March 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York when “The Greatest” faced “Smokin’ Joe” for the heavyweight championship. Ali was seeking to regain the belt back after being stripped of it for refusing to be entered into the military draft for the Vietnam War. Frazier ended up winning in a unanimous decision to retain.

Ali won the second match by unanimous decision in January 1974. However, no belt was on the line as Frazier lost the heavyweight championship to George Foreman one year earlier.

Between the second and third matches with Frazier, Ali recaptured the heavyweight championship by TKO over Foreman in “The Rumble in the Jungle” in October 1974. That match took place in the African country formerly known as Zaire.

This set up the historic “Thrilla in Manilla” at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, as the heavyweight championship would once again be on the line. Controversy surrounded the lead-up to the match as Ali labeled Frazier a racial stereotype. The two would then go on to pummel each other to near death.

“The bout turned out to be three fights in one: The first had Ali, the champion, outboxing and outscoring Frazier, nailing him with clean, sharp shots,” wrote Larry Schwartz for ESPN Classic. “The second fight, from the fifth through the 11th, had Frazier giving a terrible pounding to Ali. The third fight began in the 12th round and somehow Ali, with the will of a champion, tore into Frazier for the next three rounds.”

Before the start of the 15th round, Eddie Futch, Frazier’s trainer, threw in the towel as Frazier’s eyes were nearly completely shut.

“It was like death,” Ali said following the fight that changed him forever. “Closest thing to dying that I know of.”

Both Ali and Frazier retired from boxing in 1981.

Other items Sotheby’s is auctioning off during Sports Week include:

The auction for Ali’s trunks ends April 10.

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