At the age of 10, I was a ballet-dancing, martial arty, boxing lover who read comic books. At 44, I am still into the same stuff. I began collecting boxing memorabilia around the age of 10. Both Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard memorized me. My mother was almost as big a fan and she would take me to my favorite store, Yesterday, on Addison Ave. Located in Wrigleyville, Yesterday sold a wide range of sports collectibles. Over a 20+ year span, I bought original Kung Fu movie posters and magazines that featured my favorite fighters. When I was 13, I ascended solo with crinkled dollars in my pockets to Yesterday. My mom would allow me to take the Addison Bus #152 by myself and gave me a 3-hour time limit to return before she claimed she would call the police.
By the time I opened my boxing and martial arts gym POW! in the West Loop in 2001, I had a notable collection. My gym’s original walls featured my best pieces and favorite autographed boxing gloves. Muhammad Ali’s passing yesterday has influenced so many to write about his life and contributions. Instead of writing another piece on Ali’s life that features some of his key accomplishments, I am going to share my 6 favorite Ali collectables.
#6 The Greatest, This poster came out in 1998 – it has never amounted into a valuable piece, but mine is signed. The cool thing about this poster is that is was never really sold in stores. They were only distributed to people in Chicago, Illinois.
#5 Life Magazine , March 6, 1964 featured Cassius Clay. Ali (Clay at the time) had just beat Sonny Liston. This was a tremulous fight - the fight against Liston was believed to have been tied to organized crime.
#4 Life Magazine, November 9, 1970. This issue was titled, “He's Back…” Click here for a great story on this fight.
#3 Ring Magazine, May 1967 - This is a great issue of Ring. Ali (Clay at the time) had just beat Ernie Terrell. Terrell was a formidable heavyweight at the time standing 6’6 compared to Ali’s 6’3 frame. This was a critical win for Ali since it showcased Ali’s colorful style and power. As a side note, I love this issue because Ernie Terrell was the most polite fighter I have ever met (and I have many most of the greats). Click here for a great story on Terrell and Ali.
#2 Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, is a DC Comic printed in 1978. The art is from Neal Adams. Mine issue is signed by Adams himself. It was a brilliant comic where Ali battled the Man of Steel for the title of the Earth’s champion against aliens. When it I was finally published, Ali was no longer the reigning champ, Leon Spinks captured it in February 1978.
#1 Muhammad Ali Autographed Photo with The Beatles. This photo was taken 11 days after the Beatles came to America. Taken at the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach. This is my most valuable collectible. I’ve seen it in the $1000s, but the reason why this piece means so much is because my mother bought for me for my 25th birthday before she died. She paid $400 for it in an art gallery in Miami. Click here for a great story on this photo.