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Signed Muhammad Ali rarities to hit U.S. auction block

U.S. boxing great Muhammad Ali poses during the Crystal Award ceremony at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 28, 2
U.S. boxing great Muhammad Ali poses during the Crystal Award ceremony at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 28, 2

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Memorabilia from boxing champion Muhammad Ali's rise to sporting and cultural prominence, including a signed training robe and amateur boxing trophy, are expected to fetch tens of thousands of dollars in Los Angeles auction.

Julien's Auctions said on Monday that it expects a signed white training robe, worn by Ali in November and December 1981 while he prepared for his final bout against Trevor Berbick, to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000 during a two-day auction starting May 31.

Ali, 71, shot to international recognition by winning the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the Rome Olympics at age 18. He later won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 and became a socially conscious cultural icon by refusing to fight in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

Also on offer from Ali's early career is a "Most Outstanding Boxer" trophy from the 1960 American Athletic Union's boxing championships, which is expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000.

A signed commemorative torch from the 1960 Rome Summer Games is estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000.

The loquacious boxer signed the torch's light blue cannister as Cassius Clay, his birth name and Muhammad Ali, the name he adopted in 1964 after joining the Nation of Islam.

The items are from the collection of Harlan Werner, a longtime memorabilia dealer and former agent for the Ali family.

Other Ali items up for auction are autographed boxing trunks, globes and photos of the boxer with other American sports heroes, including long-time boxing rival Joe Frazier, baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and basketball star Magic Johnson.

Other notable items in the auction include a baseball signed by Hall of Fame players Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig ($8,000-$10,000), and a signed match-used cricket bat of Indian Sachin Tendulkar ($8,000-$10,000).

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bill Trott)

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