A Look Back at One of The Best Sporting Events of the 20th Century: The Rumble in The Jungle
The Rumble in the Jungle was a famous boxing match between the legendary Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. At the time of the match, Foreman held an undefeated World Heavyweight Champion. And for most boxing fans, it was well-known that Muhammed Ali held the heavyweight champion title before him.
The match took place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa Zaire, now referred to as the Democratic Republic of Congo, earning it The Rumble in The Jungle title. Lauded as one of the most pivotal sporting events in history, this Ali vs. Foreman fight brought in many many viewers. Take a peek at the moments that led up to one of the greatest moments in boxing history.
“The Greatest” Muhammed Ali
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, was a figurehead in professional American boxing. Held as the highest-ranked boxer and often regarded as a reason why many modern boxers go into the sport, there was no one like Ali in the 1900s.
At the time of the fight’s creation, Ali was banned from the sport for three years and subsequently stripped from his world title. The punishments came after a passionate Ali refused to be drafted into the US military. However, the ban did not stop Muhammed Ali from further spreading his influence. Ali became an African American civil activist and philanthropist, choosing to join the fight for human rights.
At 32 years old, Ali had lost most of his speed. Many people even believed that the former champion had no real chance of winning against his opponent, George Foreman.
A Man Of Many Accomplishments
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 20 years, the name George Foreman is hard to forget. Most modernly known as the creator of the George Foreman Grill, Foreman has made a name for himself in more ways than one.
George Foremen is a two-time world heavyweight champion and an Olympic gold medalist. It was no secret that before the famous fight, Foreman was at the top of his sport. Having defeated skilled boxers such as Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, Foreman was a force to be reckoned with.
The Fight To End All Fights
On October 30th, 60,000 people gathered to watch the fight at the Stade du 20 Mai. Tensions were high, as Muhammed Ali was seen mocking Foreman. This infuriated Foreman, as it’s recounted that he was waiting for the sound of the bell to show Ali who was the real heavyweight champion. As soon as the bell rang, both boxers’ fates were sealed.
Foreman began to hit Ali with nasty blows. In defense, Ali developed the “rope-a-dope” technique, aiming to make Foreman lose energy by simply blocking and dodging his punches. Muhammed Ali made a conscious decision to lean on the ropes, letting Foreman expend all his energy.
It was in the fifth round that Foreman started to falter, and his punches became weak. The eighth round is known as one of the greatest moments in sports history. Ali, feeling as though he accomplished what he set out to do, moved away from the ropes.
Ali then unleashed his power, as he landed punch after punch on the exhausted Foreman. Muhammed Ali gave his all, hitting Foreman with a 5-punch combo and a hard right-handed punch that eventually knocked Foreman to the ground. As the referee counted to 8, the decision was made, Ali would regain his heavyweight title.
What The Fight Meant To Ali
For Muhammed Ali, winning the fight meant more than being a champion of a highly regarded sport. Although you would never consider it at the height of his career, Ali was an underdog. Between facing exile from evading the military draft to feeling less powerful than he once was, winning the fight meant a lot to Ali and his supporters.
The match was broadcasted live on televisions across the world, amounting to a total of 50 million viewers. In the United States alone, the fight gathered approximately $60 to $300 million.
The Rumble in the Jungle has remained a large cultural influence in both the sport of boxing and the world in general. Both George Foreman and Muhammed Ali will go down as the greatest displays of sportsmanship ever shown, living a legacy that will continue to live on for years to come.