Summer Premier Auction 2019

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While history has often depicted Muhammad Ali's story as a me-against-the-world tale of success, the reality is he was aided in his professional career by a little-known group of Kentucky businessmen and sports aficionados called the "Louisville Sponsoring Group." These 11 men based in Louisville acted as a sort of “group agent” for their hometown Olympic hero Cassius Clay, with the goal of keeping him free of the underworld elements that had become so intertwined with the sport at the time. For a 50% cut of his profits (later reduced to 40%), the LSG did everything from hiring his iconic trainer Angelo Dundee and managing Clay’s business opportunities to sponsoring his early fights and training as he worked his way up from Olympic Gold Medalist to professional heavyweight contender.

This incredibly rare lapel pin is one of 11 that were specially made, one for each member of this civic and sports-minded group. This one belonged to Gordon B. Davidson, attorney/advisor for the group and young Cassius, and the last surviving member of the LSG before his passing in 2015. Davidson is pictured in the attached photo just to the right of Clay, with Sonny Liston's agent Jack Nilon to Clay's left, as Liston and Joe Louis stand behind them. This was the contact signing in Denver, CO on November 5, 1963, for the first Heavyweight Championship bout between Clay and Liston.

Crafted from 14-karat gold with red and black enameled details, the 13/16” pin has a pair of gold gloves at its center surrounded by "LOUISVILLE SPONSORING GROUP." The back has a screw-stud mounting system and is marked “TIFFANY & CO. 14K.” The intricate and historically important piece, one of only 11 known to exist, remains in oustanding condition with very light handling. The pin comes with an LOA from Davidson's son.

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