June 23, 2001 – The infamous ripped gloves worn by Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) in his pivotal 1963 match against English left-hooker Henry Cooper were sold at a London auction for a staggering £37, 600 yesterday.
Ali, then considered merely a flashy upstart who would be crushed by world champ Sonny Liston, was famously knocked flat on his backside by a “Henry Hammer” at Wembley Stadium at the end of the fourth round of their first fight on 18 June 1963. Due a title shot in his next bout, Ali had only a minute to recover from what was an absolutely devastating knockdown.
Fearing the 60 seconds would not be enough, Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee broke out the smelling salts and then, sneakily, ripped at his charge’s gloves – promoting a deliberation as to whether a replacement would be needed. The extra moments ensured Ali recovered. He stopped the brave, talented but fragile skinned Englishman in the next round – lacerating Cooper with a shower of jabs and right crosses.
If not for that glove, or so some theories state, Clay would have loss that night in London, not have challenged and beat Liston for the title, and boxing history would have been vastly different.
A Mr Trevor Beattie, an advertising boss, bought the gloves at Christie’s and now owns a great piece of heavyweight history.