Two Rare 1974 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Onsite Fight Stickers

Sold For: $1,778

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 1335

Item Year: 1974

Category: Football/Basketball/Hockey/Boxing/Other Sports

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Two exceedingly rare stickers, the likes of which we have never seen before, issued in promotion of the the heavyweight title bout between champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, famously known as "The Rumble in the Jungle," held on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. One of the stickers (rectangular, measuring 6.25 x 3.5 inches) features images of the two combatants, while the other (circular, four inches in diameter) pictures a pair of boxing gloves set with the shape of Zaire. Because Kinshasa was a Belgian colony until 1960, the stickers are printed in French, with each reading "Championnat Du Monde - De Boxe - Poids Lourds" (World Heavyweight Championship). One of the most interesting aspects of these stickers is that each features the actual date of the fight (October 30, 1974). The fight was originally scheduled for September of that year, but an injury to Foreman resulted in a five-week postponement, with the bout eventually taking place on October 30th. Obviously, these stickers were designed and produced after the postponement was announced, meaning unlike the posters for the fight, they were only in circulation for a very short period of time. Their limited circulation, combined with the fact that most were probably used as intended, most likely explains why we have never seen any other examples. The fact that these have survived is related to their extraordinary provenance.

These stickers, along with the five Ali/Forman onsite fight posters in this auction all originate from the same consignor, a gentleman who was born and raised in Zaire (formerly the Belgium Congo; his family came from Belgium). At the time of the fight our consignor was a chef at the Hotel Inter-Continental Kinshasa, where Foreman resided while training and where Ali was a frequent visitor. Because he was a boxing fan and one of the youngest chefs at the hotel, a member of President Mobutu's public relations staff gave him the posters and stickers as a gift. (As he recalls, since President Mobutu was part owner of the hotel, both he and his public relations team spent a great deal of time at the hotel during the time leading up to the fight. It was at that time that he became friendly with members of Mobutu's staff, who then gave him the posters and stickers as mementoes of the event.) They have been in his possession since that time. We have never even heard of the existence of these stickers, let alone seen one. Even our consignor admits that he has never seen any other examples since the time of their issue in 1974. These are two of the rarest commemorative pieces from that historic bout, each of which may possibly represent the only surviving example. Both stickers display only modest handling wear and are in Excellent condition. Total: 2 stickers. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $1,778

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