There are few sports stars that command the devotion and respect that Muhammad Ali does. Considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, Ali was a legendary presence both in the ring and outside it.
And the devotion of his many fans has meant Muhammad Ali collectibles can sell for six figure sums.
During his career, cards dedicated to the sporting legend were surprisingly inconsistent. Post his retirement from the ring, sports fans had better access to memorabilia celebrating his legacy.
But if you want to find the most valuable Muhammad Ali cards, you have to look to the very earliest years of his career.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the rarest and most valuable Muhammad Ali cards available today.
The enduring popularity of Ali means that there are many more cards than just the ones we’ve listed here. But these are the options most desirable in the eyes of a collector.
1960 Hemmets Journal Cassius Clay Rookie Card #23
This is the big one, the card that gets everyone talking. Printed in 1960, this is recognized as the only rookie card of Muhammad Ali, from back when he was still known as Cassius Clay.
Depicting the boxer as a young man, just at the start of his exceptional career, the card is a prized rarity. And you’ll need to splash out at least four figures if you want to own it.
If you have the opportunity to get your hands on a good quality edition of this sought after card. Then you’ll be the envy of other collectors. You will find that opportunities for high PSA rookie cards are rare.
There are limited numbers of the Muhammad Ali rookie cards around, and those we do know of are most often in poor condition. There’s only a single PSA 10 known to collectors, and it’s estimated to be worth something to the tune of $250,000.
If you’re desperate to have this card in your collection, be prepared to pay potentially thousands of dollars for a low PSA. Even PSA 1 Cassius Clay Rookie cards have been listed for $1000 and upwards.
The 1960 Hemmets Journal card is considered to be the Muhammad Ali rookie card, and the one that sells for the big bucks. It isn’t the only early career Ali card worth investing in.
1962 Swedish Rekord Cassius Clay
Another great example of an early career Ali card. This 1962 Rekord card depicts the boxing champion as a young man.
Released after his stunning win at the 1960 Summer Olympics. The 1962 Swedish Rekord cards depicted some of the biggest sport stars of the day.
Originally sold in Sweden, and with Swedish descriptions on the back, the cards have only recently begun circulating in the international market.
There are a couple of versions of this card available. The first is a shared card, depicting Cassius Clay alongside Swedish handballer Kjell Jarlenius. The second, more desirable card (sorry, Jarlenius), shows Clay alone.
However, it’s hard to find a single card of good quality. Often hand-cut, the centering and corners are frequently messed up. A high-graded card is likely to set you back a five-figure sum.
1965 Collezioni Lampo I Grandi Campioni Cassius Clay #154
Featuring a classic sports card image of Cassius Clay smiling against a blue background, this Italian release is another rare card from the 1960s.
1966 Panini Campioni Dello Sport Cassius Clay #377
The 1966 Panini Campioni Dello Sport Cassius Clay card features the same image as the Collezioni Lampo card, but without the vivid blue background. The relaxed image of the champ was his first inclusion in the large commercial card sets.
Although only released in Italy, the Cassius Clay card quickly became an international collectible. As were many other cards from this set, showing those who are now sporting legends at the start of their career.
As the first Cassius Clay card from a major set, this is highly regarded by collectors.
The 1966 set was just the start of Ali’s inclusion in major card sets. In the following year, Panini included him again in the Campioni Dello Sport collection, this time as #451. The image depicts the boxer looking off to the side, presumably as he wrapped his hands.
1971 Barratt & Co Famous Sportsmen Cassius Clay/ Muhammad Ali #24
The 1971 set by Barratt & Co was released to honor famous sports champions who were rarely depicted on cards. Showing an image of Ali in the ring, this set was released for the American market, and was a hit with collectors.
A notable aspect of this card is that it’s one of the first to reference the boxer’s name change. The back of the card references both Cassius Clay and Muhammad Ali.
Other Collectible Muhammad Ali Cards
In addition to the above examples, there are also plenty of other collectible Muhammad Ali cards out there. Some are extremely valuable, while others are merely interesting pieces of memorabilia.
As a great sportsman, Ali was included in several different collections, often with large print runs. Some cards to keep an eye out for are:
- 1964 Chocolates Simon Cassius Clay
- 1965 Bancroft Tiddlers Cassius Clay #12
- 1965 Swedish Candy Cassius Clay
- 1979 Muhammad Ali Venorlandus Our Heroes World Of Sport #3
- 1983 Topps Olympic Heroes Cassius Clay #7
- 1992 Classic Muhammad Ali Auto
How Much Are Muhammad Ali Cards Worth? – Final Thoughts
Muhammad Ali is a legendary sports figure, but one who was rarely represented in card collections. Cards from early in his career are incredibly valuable, particularly if in good condition.
Often created for foreign markets, these early cards are tricky to find. Cards from the 1960s and early 1970s, typically referring to Ali as Cassius Clay, can sell for five and six figure sums.
Even some modern cards printed in limited runs are still desirable to collectors. And as the legacy of Muhammad Ali grows, we imagine the market for collectible cards will as well. With that, you can probably expect the price tag to rise.