Athletes, musicians, and other public figures are commonly said to be “the greatest of all time.” The designation is used fairly casually nowadays, despite very few people actually deserving the title. However, when it comes to legendary boxer and US Gold Medalist Muhammad Ali, the honor is 100 percent deserved.
Perhaps the most influential athlete and humanitarian of the 20th century, Ali is responsible for some of the most memorable and iconic moments in sports and civil rights history. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, won the Amnesty International Lifetime Achievement Award, was Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Century,” and was a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
And that’s just the beginning of his seemingly endless list of accolades. Unsurprisingly, his inspiring legacy has stretched far beyond his waking years, making him a cross-generational cultural icon like few we’ve seen before.
But if anyone needed proof of Ali’s continued status, they got it on June 27, 2022. On that day, three powerhouses partnered to bring the next era of Ali collectibles to fans across the globe — and many sold out almost instantaneously.
A new era in Ali collectibles
To honor Ali’s illustrious career, Sports Illustrated, eBay, and green NFT platform OneOf united to bring the “Sports Illustrated x Muhammad Ali” NFT collection to life.
The collection is a series of 3D-animated action figure NFTs in which Ali performs some of his signature moves. The NFTs themselves feature one of ten unique artworks, each paying homage to Ali’s unique technique and unparalleled competitive mindset. Like in most non-fungible collections, the NFTs were separated into different tiers, each with increasing degrees of rarity. They include green, gold, platinum, and diamond, and the price at launch ranged from $22 to $250 across the different tiers.
On the morning of June 27, the collection went live on both eBay and on OneOf. Many of the tiers sold out in record time, and they are currently going for thousands of dollars on secondary markets. Some of the rarest pieces? They are listed for $75,000.
The success of the collection shows both the power of Ali’s legacy and the significant role that NFTs play in the new era of collectibles. However, the success of the project didn’t come as a surprise to some.
In a release sent to nft now ahead of the launch, Dawn Block, VP of Collectibles, Electronics, and Home at eBay, predicted such an outcome. “The first NFT collection from our partnership with OneOf sold out within a few hours, and we know enthusiasm for the ‘Sports Illustrated x Muhammad Ali’ NFT collection will be equally as impressive, as a new generation of collectors continue to merge their passions with investments,” she said.
Online marketplaces are changing
Ultimately, the sale marked a monumental moment for eBay, which is continuing its foray into the NFT and digital collectibles space. The company launched its first NFT collection in May of 2022. A month later, they announced that they were acquiring KnownOrigin, a major NFT marketplace that has generated over $7 million in trading volume.
These moves demonstrate the ways in which traditional online marketplaces are adapting their business models in the age of digital assets and NFTs.
And with a platform of over 142 million active buyers, eBay has become a perfect partner for OneOf as they continue their mission of onboarding more individuals to NFTs in an attempt to facilitate deeper and more authentic connections between fans and their favorite artists, athletes, and brands.
Michael Sherman, VP of Media at Authentic Brands Group, which is the owner of Sports Illustrated, noted that the partnership was ultimately a great privilege for all of the parties involved. “There is perhaps no other athlete in history whose legacy is more intertwined with Sports Illustrated than Muhammad Ali. Sports Illustrated has told Ali’s story countless times, and we are proud to honor his legacy through this NFT collection,” he said.
Joshua James, OneOf’s Co-Founder and COO, echoed these sentiments in the press release. “Muhammad Ali is one of the most important cultural figures in both American and world history. We could not be more honored to honor his legacy with this digital collection through our partnership with Sports Illustrated and in collaboration with eBay,” he said.
If you’re interested in being a part of the project, at the time of writing, collectibles across all tiers are sold out on OneOf. However, select Green, Gold, and Platinum tiers are still available on eBay for a limited time. So if you’re an Ali fan or NFT enthusiast looking to add these historic pieces to your portfolio, head over to eBay to get going.