By: Kirk Jackson
Kirk Jackson sat down with Ezra Levine, CEO of Collectable, and Jim Platt, President of Sports Immortals to discuss their collaboration, as well as the origins of their respective ventures. Also in the discussion are the goals and purpose of this association, along with the importance of the highly coveted, illustrious Muhammad Ali World Boxing Championship Belt, awarded to him for his legendary 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” conquest over the reigning champion George Foreman.
This past November, the sports memorabilia investment platform Collectable, announced a new partnership with Sports Immortals. Through this partnership, Collectable will offer fractional ownership of some of the world’s most paramount pieces of sports memorabilia in affordable share increments. The first items of Sports Immortals memorabilia to be added to the Collectable platform include:
o Beginning with the highly coveted Muhammad Ali World Boxing Council (WBC) Championship Belt awarded to Ali in 1976 for his victory over George Foreman on October 30, 1974.
· Wilt Chamberlain game-worn and autographed Overbrook High School uniform.
· This uniform was obtained by Joel Platt, founder of Sports Immortals, directly from Wilt Chamberlain’s mother during a visit to her home in Philadelphia on June 26th, 1961.
· This belt was obtained by Joel Platt directly from Muhammad Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr. during a visit to his home in Louisville, Kentucky on February 22, 1989.
· Jackie Robinson autographed Stats Bat.
· This Louisville Slugger bat was produced by the Hillerich & Bradsby sporting Goods Company in 1950. Harry D. Evans, a true pioneer baseball collector, inscribed Jackie Robinson’s statistics from the 1949 season to celebrate Jackie’s being the 1949 National League Batting Champion and then he had Jackie Robinson autograph the bat.
· Lew Alcindor game-worn UCLA warm-up jacket from 1969 NCAA Championship Game.
· The jacket is photo matched to his celebration after helping UCLA win three straight championship titles from 1967 to 1969, and seen on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
· 1965 Johnny Unitas’ game-worn and autographed road jersey.
· This jersey was obtained directly from former equipment manager of the Baltimore Colts, Fred Schubach.
Founder Joel Platt, over the span of several decades, traveled more than one million miles to curate one million mementos from such iconic athletes as Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Michael Jordan, just to name a few.
Sports Immortals covers the spectrum of categories including game-worn uniforms and equipment, autographed balls, photos, tickets, programs, awards, medals, etc. More often than not, the backstories of how Mr. Platt came to acquire the items are just as interesting as the items themselves.
Recently Joel’s son, Jim, has taken the lead and will continue to enhance the Sports Immortals collection and further the company’s mission.
“The fractional ownership platform offers us a new and exciting way to keep the memories and accomplishments of the greatest athletes in sports history alive and as relevant today as they were back then,” said Jim Platt, President of Sports Immortals. “We have some of the rarest artifacts in existence – alongside Collectable, we’re thrilled to start sharing several of these items and their stories with sports fans all over the country.”
Shares on items from the Sports Immortals collection are already available for purchase beginning in November.
Further expanding on the origins of Sports Immortal, “Well my father in 1943, was injured in a gasoline explosion at the age of 4,” said Jim.
“He was bedridden for a year and my grandparents started buying baseball cards to help entertain him during his recovery period. One of the cards was Babe Ruth and he had a dream one night. Babe came to visit him and said ‘kid don’t give up.’ One day you could be a Major League Baseball player or one day build a shrine to honor sports heroes.”
“But as he recovered he said with his life, he had two goals. One was to be a Major League Baseball player. But he ultimately injured his arm playing baseball in college, right before he was going to sign with the Red Sox. But the other was, he knew at a young age, that if he was going to build a shrine to honor sports heroes, that he needed memorabilia to be the nucleus of that project. So his collection grew from cards to tickets, to programs, to autographs – actual mementos from the athletes.”
“When he was able to drive, he started driving all over the country, meeting the athletes and their relatives, telling them about his vision and mission, which was to preserve the memories and achievements of the world’s greatest athletes and in over 78 years, he’s traveled over a million miles to curate the collection. Over one million mementos from the world’s greatest athletes. Now in addition to that, garnering great relationships with equipment managers of the different sports teams. So it’s really a culmination of his traveling encounters with the athletes and their relatives.”
Muhammad Ali, regarded as one of the sport’s greatest icons, arguably reached his pinnacle boxing achievement by defeating fellow legendary heavyweight champion George Foreman, in what was dubbed, “The Rumble in the Jungle.”
As Jim continued, “But in particular, you know why we’re kind of talking here today. The Muhammad Ali belt. Of all the travels my dad made and in all the athletes he’s met, Muhammad Ali is by far his favorite. He met the champ on eight different occasions, each time spending a couple hours with him; just unbelievable stories and backstories.”
“In terms of where the belt came from, my dad actually traveled to Louisville, Kentucky and met with Cassius Clay Sr., his father. He heard he was living there, he looked him up and came unannounced as he usually did, knocked on the door and introduced himself. Told him how much he adored his son and heard that he had some memorabilia and he was interested to see if it was possible to obtain it for the Sports Immortals collection.”
“And you know, after spending a couple hours with Cassius Clay Sr., he was able to acquire unbelievable mementos, including the championship belt.
Regarding Collectable’s involvement, Collectable offers potential investors the opportunity to buy and sell fractional shares of items like cards, rings, documents and game-used items. Founded by CEO Ezra Levine, who was previously CFO of football scouting showcase The Spring League, said he learned about fractionalization and sought to merge the concept to sports memorabilia, thus forming this partnership with Sports Immortal.
“Sports Immortals has a jaw-dropping collection of sports memorabilia, arguably the greatest the world has ever seen,” said Ezra Levine, CEO of Collectable.
“Seeing and experiencing the collection first-hand was a surreal and visceral experience. I knew, then and there, we had to find a way to bring their collection to Collectable. Through this partnership, and through Collectable’s fractional ownership model, collectors and sports fans will have the opportunity to own some of the most iconic pieces of sports memorabilia the market has ever seen. We couldn’t be more thrilled to share it with sports fans and collectors of all income brackets, all across the country.”
Collectable aims to build revenue streams outside of its fees and any profit it is able to clear on the acquisition and subsequent sale of memorabilia. The company will introduce a premium membership model that will grant paying users early access to IPO prices, and another potential source of income is fan events built around athlete-owned memorabilia as further plans include the avenue to provide athletes an opportunity to list memorabilia while maintaining partial ownership and possession of the items.
“It was all about his whole life creating a museum that would honor and enshrined the greatest athletes of all time. The museum up until probably the year 2000 or so, was really the only vehicle for him to share his collection with fans,” said Jim.
“So about 18 months ago, I was contacted by a group that had told me about the whole fractionalization concept and told us you could share the collection that way with people and offer people the opportunity to own some of your dad’s collection, while actually not giving up the asset and still possessing it, but being able to share it with people so they get the pleasure of owning part of sports history.”
“We were introduced to the concept, met with three different groups and just really wasn’t in love with any of the deals. I never leave a stone unturned and it was actually my wife told me that she came across the Collectable and I looked them up, got in contact with Ezra. About three days later, he was on a plane during Covid-19, he came down to see us. We spent a delightful two days with him, you know, took him into the vault. He met my family. He introduced me through zoom to his entire staff, which was quite impressive. From that moment we tried our best to work things out and we were able to reach agreement with them and have been very excited ever since.”
The Rumble in the Jungle is one of Ali’s most famous fights and remains culturally impactful to this day more than 46 years later. It has also been referenced as “Arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.”
“It was really about finding the right partnership and the right storytellers who could curate and help advance the stories of the athletes in the collection,” said Ezra.
“We want to share these athlete’s achievements, items and memories with the next generation to support Sports Immortals and all the other initiatives that they have planned Our visions were very much aligned and we always put storytelling at the front of our business.”
“Referencing the Muhammad Ali belt, so I’ll talk about it from our vantage point, for Collectable, our mission is to democratize the sports memorabilia industry,” said Ezra.
“One thing that we set out to do in addition to democratizing the industry, was providing the best in class investment opportunities of iconic sports memorabilia. And I don’t think it’s arguable that the Sports Immortals collection is the greatest collection. It was a really big get for our platform because it guaranteed we’re going to have the best possible supply and opportunities for our users. The Muhammad Ali title belt is obviously is one of the most iconic mementoes and art we could offer.”
Tale of the Tape: The Rumble in the Jungle
Date: October 30, 1974.
Venue: Stade Tata Raphaël – Kinshasa, Zaire.
Title(s) on the line: WBA/WBC/The Ring/Lineal Heavyweight Championships, Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship.
Champion: “Big George” George Foreman 40–0 (37 KO’s), Current WBA/WBC/The Ring/Lineal Heavyweight Champion, from Houston, Texas.
Challenger: “Louisville Slugger,” aka “The Champ,” aka “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali 44–2 (31 KO’s), Former Undisputed Champion from Louisville, Kentucky.
Ezra continued, “You look for things that are rare and scarce. We look for things that have ironclad stories, that come directly from the players and player’s families. The Muhammad Ali belt in my opinion, is just a perfect example of the type of outrageously unique supply that we’re going to bring for our investors going forward as well.”
“And this is truly our coming out celebration if you will, what we’re really announcing with Sports Immortals, what we’re bringing to the world and it was so perfect and appropriate to have Muhammad Ali, who along with Michael Jordan, are probably the greatest athletes kick things off, ,” said Jim.
“We’re happy we did it and it made my dad very happy that that we could put Muhammad Ali front and center and really bring his memory back to the forefront so that anybody that is becoming associated with Collectable can be introduced back to Muhammad Ali.”
The idea of connecting to an extraordinary assortment of significant memorabilia from sporting events, athletes and commemorating it with our own remembrances sounds like a solid investment. For more information, please visit the links below.
About Sports Immortals
Sports Immortals, Inc. is a holding company headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida that owns the rights to over one million sports mementos from the world’s greatest athletes. Sports Immortals Inc. will utilize its reservoir of content, exclusive copyrights, licenses and trademarks to develop projects that will be inspirational, educational, historical, cultural and most of all, entertaining. Please visit www.sportsimmortals.com for more information.
Collectable is an investing platform and community for sports fans. As the first and only fractional ownership app dedicated to sports, Collectable is re-imagining sports collecting and investing, a long overdue modernization of a timeless tradition through fractionalized shares, more access, more liquidity, lower price point, and less exclusivity.
Collectable believes the greatest moments and artifacts in sports history should be accessible to the masses, not just the wealthy. The Collectable app is available in the Apple Store or on Google Play, please visit www.collectable.com for more information.
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