Arguably the most talented boxer of all-time, Muhammed Ali (1942-2016) began his career as Cassius Clay. He travelled to the 1960 Rome Olympic Games as a teenager, and returned with light heavyweight gold.
In terms of his sporting legacy, Ali remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times, and was involved in more Ring “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter.
Ali was also a committed social activist, focusing on philanthropy following his retirement in 1981. He suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome in his later years, and passed away in June 2016.
As a true GOAT of his sport, we’ve put together a round-up containing three of the best Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali cards that money can buy.
The Best Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali Cards
You’ll have to look to European collections if you want early Cassius Clay cards or stickers. This is possibly due to the fact that racial segregation was still in practice until the 1970’s in the US.
In any case, Cassius Clay was shown no love at home. That didn’t stop others including his likeness when putting together classic vintage sets.
3. 1966 Panini Campioni Dello Sport Cassius Clay #377 (eBay)
Take 1966 Panini Campioni Dello Sport. A vintage collection featuring the biggest names in a range of different disciplines, popular items include Pele in a Brazil kit, and fellow boxer Sonny Liston.
Cassius Clay had already won the WBA and WBC belts by 1966, defeating the likes of Floyd Patterson and Liston along the way. He’s included in a simple colour profile shot, set against a simple grey background.
Aside from some questionable terminology on the reverse, it’s a great piece of early Ali merch which is now over 65 years old. The age will make it tough to locate copies in decent condition, further increasing the asking price.
2. 2000 Upper Deck Master Collection Muhammad Ali #AliA2 (eBay)
What about something released after the turn of the century, when he was better known as Muhammed Ali?
The premium 2000 Upper Deck Muhammad Ali Master Collection Set was individually serial numbered out of 250. Every card in the set comes individually encased.
There are a couple of hand-signed autographs that could be found within, at a rate of one per box.
They’re some of the best Ali signatures on the market, and look likely to hold their value well in the long-term.
1. 1960 Hemmets Journal Cassius Clay RC #23 (eBay)
This 1960 Hemmets Journal card finds an 18 year old Cassius Clay on the cusp of International fame, as he prepared to take the Olympics by storm.
The undisputed Muhammed Ali RC, they had to be hand cut from A4 pages of the journal. (That’s why some copies still have the other three stars attached.)
Given a deep, green background, it’s an understated piece, and it’s reminiscent of popular vintage Bowman sets from the era. As you might have guessed, hardly any copies have made it to the present day unscathed, and graded copies sell for vast sums of money.
Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali Cards: Buyers Guide
Here are our thoughts on the current state of the Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali market.
You’ll struggle to find any cheap vintage Cassius Clay cards, especially for anything released during the 1960’s. There’s also an abundance of lower rated Muhammed Ali options, although they’re unlikely to increase in value by a large percentage in the long-term.
Look no further than the 1960 Hemmets Journal card. It’s the RC for a true sporting icon, while there’s a sole PSA 10 option, and only 11 PSA nine grades at the current time of writing.
Along with the likes of Mike Tyson, Ali is one of the most memorable heavyweight champions ever. In fact, that’s doing him a slight disservice. He’s arguably the most important sporting icon of his era, with a long-lasting legacy that will stand the test of time.
His rarest cards will always be important for collectors who are keen to own a real piece of history. They focus on a boxer who helped to take the sport into mainstream consciousness. As well as being an influential athlete, he helped to push the agenda forward for social justice and civil rights history.
Given everything mentioned above, his best cards have to be seen as some of the best boxing investments overall. They have great potential as a long-term hold.