Posted 28-07-15 by David

Anyone who has studied Ali's life and career will know just how amazing this piece is.  The stories that each signatory could tell...

Muhammad Ali and his entourage visited New Zealand in 1979 and were guests of honour at a charity dinner hosted by the New Zealand Boxing Association.  From the family of the then-president of the NZBA comes this remarkable piece of sporting history.  Pictures appear below.

Consistent with the era, the signatures are in biro.  Muhammad Ali has dated his with the year, "79" and this fantastic signature measures 14cm wide and 9cm high and is in great condition.  It is among the best Ali signatures that I have ever seen anywhere.

Of similar size, and with a "hieroglyphics-style" diagram showing what happens to Ali's opponents is the signature of Ali's motivator and corner man, the legendary Drew "Bundini" Brown.  Among other achievements, Bundini created the phrase "Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee."  Bundini was Ali's motivator from the beginning of his career until its end.

With Ali on that amazing night was former World Heavyweight Champion of the World Jimmy Ellis, whose clear signature is also dated and inscribed, perhaps with the words "God Rules" or "Best Wishes", depending on your reading.  Ellis became world champ in 1968 when he defeated Jerry Quarry.  Sadly, Jimmy Ellis passed away in May, 2014.

That's not all.

Ali's wife of the time, the remarkably beautiful Veronica Porche (who changed her surname to Porsche) has signed as "Veronica Ali".  A little faded is the signature of her sister, "Michelle Porche".

She was the third wife of Muhammad Ali and  the mother of his two daughters, actress and undefeated professional boxer Laila Ali and author Hana Yasmeen Ali. They were married at the Presidential Compound in N'Sele according to the Islamic tradition.  Ali and Porsche began a relationship in 1974 while in Kinshasa, Zaire when Porsche was 18 years old. Porsche was one of the four poster girls who had promoted the Rumble in the Jungle fight in Zaire versus George Foreman. Porsche and Ali were then married in Los Angeles in the summer of 1977. They divorced in December 1986.

In the right-hand top corner is the signature of Harold Smith.  As former boxing promoter Harold “Ross Fields” Smith, Harold Smith was convicted in the 1980s for the then-biggest bank swindle in US history (stealing US$21 million from Wells Fargo).  This was also when Smith used Muhammad Ali’s name and formed a fraudulent company named Muhammad Ali Pro Sports, AKA MAPS.  Thus, an infamous name was then part of the Ali group, a group then on top of the world.

To the left is that of Bill McCarthy, the evening's MC and one of New Zealand's most famous TV presenters.

Few pieces of Ali memorabilia have such history, let alone a menu featuring New Zealand Lamb and Blueberry Pie from a moment in time in 1979.  As Australia's most knowledgeable expert on Muhammad Ali memorabilia, Dr David Poole today tonight and tomorrow can respond to your questions about authenticity and the value of items relating to The Athlete of the Century.









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