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A Lifelong Love of Boxing and the Assembly of a Diverse Collection

PJ Kinsella in Consignor Stories

Apr 06 — 3 mins read

By Amar Shah

The hook. There's always one. Peter Pan had his, and so did Kareem. But the hook, often with collectors, is personal, connecting them directly to their passion and hobby.

One consignor's love of collecting started with stamps and stickers called Odd Rods when he was young. Still, watching boxing matches in the late 60s and 70's with his dad and uncles got him hooked on the sport.

"Imagine watching Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Norton, Quarry, Foster, Duran, Monzon," he said. "It was great!"

He became more focused on collecting boxing cards as he got older. He started with a few candy cards that included boxers as part of a larger stamp collection. Soon, he was ordering a checklist of boxing cards from England and expanding his want list. He was particularly drawn to the turn-of-the-century boxing cards and tried to collect as many as possible.

"Certain boxing cards could stay on my want list for years, so anytime I made an addition, it was a natural high," the collector said. "I really liked the history and stories behind the sport in those early days. Boxers like Paddy Ryan, John Sullivan, Jack Johnson, and others were the big sports idols of the day."

Jack Johnson is widely-regarded as one of the greatest boxing heavyweights of all-time and, more importantly, was the first African American to hold the esteemed title of heavyweight champion.

His collection spans over a century of the sport's history, from 1887 to the mid-1950s.

Over the years, his collection has grown to include some truly remarkable items. One highlight is his collection of 14 Lorillard's "Prizefighters" cards from 1887, all graded by SGC. These cards are scarce with only a total of six graded examples showing on the PSA Population Report. REA has only sold twenty Lorillard’s in the last twenty years.

1887 N269 Lorillard's "Prizefighters" SGC-Graded Collection

1887 N269 Lorillard's "Prizefighters" SGC-Graded Collection

He also has a nearly complete subset of 18 out of 24 SGC-graded T229 Kopec Cigarettes Boxing cards from 1910, including an SGC GOOD 2 Jack Johnson card. Between SGC and PSA, there are several hundred Jack Johnson cards from all different sets that have been submitted for grading, but PSA has only graded one 1910 T229 Kopec Cigarettes Boxing card of Jack Johnson which was a PSA GOOD+ 2.5

Additionally, he has an SGC NM 7 1951 Topps Ringside Boxing Panel featuring Rocky Marciano and Laurent Dauthuille. Marciano, the inspiration behind the 1976 classic “Rocky,” remains the only heavyweight boxer to finish his career undefeated.

The collection will be featured in REA's Spring Catalog Auction among dozens of lots, with his best items, including the Johnson and Marciano, offered as individual lots. A number of partial sets will be offered to keep his yearslong quests together.

1951 Topps Ringside Boxing Panel #32/38 featuring Rocky Marciano and Laurent Dauthuille - SGC NM 7

1951 Topps Ringside Boxing Panel #32/38 featuring Rocky Marciano and Laurent Dauthuille - SGC NM 7

His collection started at a time when professional grading was not the standard that it has become today. "My cards were kept loose, and my favorites were put in plastic card savers of all types, in shoe boxes, and in my old dresser drawers," he said. The collector worked with REA to identify the best candidates for grading prior to auction.

He has also collected other cards over the years, including complete sets of Topps baseball going back to 1954, partial sets of 1952 and 1953, football sets back to 1955, and basketball sets back to 1957. One special card in his collection is a 1957-58 Topps Basketball #77 Bill Russell Rookie in a PSA VG 3, which he also recently submitted to REA.

This collection also includes a 1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie PSA VG 3

This collection also includes a 1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie PSA VG 3

Despite his deep love of collecting, he has decided that it's time to part ways with his collection. 

"I've had my enjoyment and will use any funds to help pay off my children's education," he said. "I'm an older gent and am still working in carpentry."

For this collector, the hook no longer holds. Even Peter Pan ages.

Amar Shah is a multiple Emmy-winning writer and producer who has written for ESPN.com, NFL.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Orlando Sentinel, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Slam Magazine and The Washington Post. In the 90s, Amar was a teen sports reporter and got to hang out with the Chicago Bulls during their golden era. He even landed on the cover for Sports Illustrated for Kids with Shaquille O’Neal. His debut novel "The Hoop Con" comes out in February 6, 2024 with Scholastic. You can preorder here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hoop-con-amar-shah/1143287376?ean=9781338840315

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