292
292
Clay, Cassius, later Muhammad Ali
LAPEL PIN FROM THE LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP
Estimate
7,00010,000
JUMP TO LOT
292
Clay, Cassius, later Muhammad Ali
LAPEL PIN FROM THE LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP
Estimate
7,00010,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books & Manuscripts

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New York

Clay, Cassius, later Muhammad Ali
LAPEL PIN FROM THE LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP
Circular lapel pin (diameter 13/16 in.; 21 mm), marked TIFFANY & CO. | 14K, 14-caret gold and red and black enamel, the central field depicting a pair of gold boxing gloves against a red background, the outer edge lettered in black LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP, fastening on the back with screw-stud and circular washer.
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Literature

Michael Ezra, "Battles for Control over Muhammad Ali's Career and Image," in Sports and the Racial Divide, ed. Michael E. Lomax (University Press of Mississippi, 2008); Huston Horn, "The Eleven Men Behind Cassius Clay," in Sports Illustrated, 11 March 1963

Catalogue Note

THE BIRTH OF "THE GREATEST; ONE OF THE ELEVEN DISCREET, EMBLEMATIC LABEL PINS COMMISSIONED FROM TIFFANY'S BY THE LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP. Muhammad Ali was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Century," while Time described him as "the most recognizable person on Earth." But at the beginning of his professional career, inaugurated after winning the Light Heavyweight gold medal at the Rome Olympics, Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, had an unusual coterie of eleven prominent businessmen from his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, in his corner. 

The Louisville Sponsoring Group was put together by Alberta Jones, a Louisville attorney, and included lawyers and executives from companies such as Brown-Foreman Distillers Corp., Brown-Williamson Tobacco, and the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. The full roster of members was Robert Worth Bingham; W.L. Lyons Brown, Sr.; Patrick Calhoun, Jr.; J.D. Stetson Coleman; Gordon B. Davidson; William Faversham, Jr.; Archibald McG. Foster; George W. Norton IV; Vertner D. Smith, Sr.; Elbert Gary Sutcliffe; and James Ross Todd. Davidson, the last living member of the Group, died last year.

The Louisville bluebloods thought of their sponsorship of the young boxer as a civic duty, and they likely helped keep Clay out of the clutches of organized crime. In announcing the venture, they stated that each of the "members of the group has admiration for Cassius Clay as a fine young man. … The principal purpose of the group is to provide hometown support for Cassius's professional career and to aid him in realizing the maximum benefits from his efforts."  From 1960 until 1966, the Louisville Sponsors, hired trainer Angelo Dundee, scheduled his fights, provided legal services, managed his finances, and paid his expenses. In exchange, the group retained 50% of Ali’s earnings (later renegotiated to 40%). 

Fine Books & Manuscripts

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New York