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You can buy a memory of Ali

July 31, 1997

So you’d like to own the robe that Muhammad Ali wore when he beat Sonny Liston and became heavyweight champion in 1964?

Or maybe you’d prefer the robe Ali wore when he won the heavyweight title for the second time by knocking out George Foreman in 1974.

Perhaps, you’d like the official cumulative score cards of Ali’s upset, split-decision loss to Leon Spinks in 1978.

Or maybe a letter sent by Cassius Clay before he went to Italy and won a 1960 Olympic gold medal, which is signed, ``Cassius Marcellus Clay `Rome Bound.‴

These are among some of the more than 3,000 pieces relating to Ali’s career and personal life that have been collected by Ronnie Paloger. They will be auctioned at Christie’s Los Angeles on Oct. 19.

``I believe I accomplished the mission,″ said Paloger, of Los Angeles, who began collecting Ali Memorabilia in 1992. ``This (the auction) will allow million of fans around the world to enjoy these things.″

The auctioning off of the items certainly should expand the audience that can view them.

``This will be the first auction of its kind to focus on one sport and one major figure,″ said Don Flanagan, sports specialist for Christie’s.

One of Paloger’s favorite items is a six-page letter sent by Ali to the state director of Selective Service in Kentucky on Aug. 23, 1966, requesting a change in draft classification.

``He wrote ``. . . re-open and consider anew my classification as it now stands ... so that my claim for exemption as a Minister of Religion, which has never before been submitted to the Local Board, may be determined.″ It is signed in black ink, ``Muhammad Ali A.K.A. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.″

A price estimate is available on request.

Ali was convicted of refusing to accept induction into the military in 1967, stripped of the heavyweight title and banned from boxing until 1970. The conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971.

Another of Paloger’s favorite pieces is the robe worn for the first Liston fight. It is white terry cloth, featuring the words ``The Lip″ and ``The Greatest″ on the back. It is signed on the back by Ali and it is estimated it will be sold for $40,000-$60,000.

The estimated price for the robe worn for the Foreman fight will be given on request. The white satin trunks with black trim and labeled ``Made Expressly for Muhammad Ali″ that were worn for the fight have an estimated price of $35,000-$45,000.

The scorecards of the three judges for Ali’s loss to Spinks are estimated at $30,000-$40,000, while the estimated price for the official scorecards for Ali’s first fight against Liston is $60,000-$80,000.

The two sets of scorecards are the only two known to exist from Ali’s entire professional career.

Paloger said, ``I was always a collector and in 1989 and I got back into sports memorabilia (baseball, basketball, etc.) and I was hooked.″

Then he got hold of his first piece of Ali memorabilia. It was a 1974 training-camp check made out to cash and signed by Ali.

He found out that boxing collecting was generally specialized _ books, or poster, or pictures or gloves and so on.

``I wanted a comprehensive collection,″ said Paloger, who began collecting Ali items in 1992. ``I would say it took thousands of dollars. It was five years non-stop. It was a lot of miles, a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of fun.″

There will be a tour of auction highlights to Cleveland (Aug. 6-10), London (Aug. 27-31), New York (Sept. 13-19) and Chicago (Oct. 5-7).

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