Remembering 'Rumble in the Jungle,' Muhammad Ali's most famous fight

  • Muhammad Ali is pictured in his training camp.
  • Muhammad Ali is seen during a training session in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali passes by a cheering crowd in Kinshasa, Zaire, on Sept. 28, 1974 before his world heavyweight championship fight against champion in title George Foreman on Oct. 30, 1974.
  • A poster on a car announces the fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
  • George Foreman is mobbed in Zaire by boxing fans at Kinshasa Airport on Sept. 12, 1974, when he arrived at dawn on a special Air Zaire flight from Paris, France.
  • Muhammad Ali is seen during training.
  • George Foreman, world heavyweight champion, stands in the ring at his training camp in N’€™Sele, Zaire, on Sept. 30, 1974 as he resumed workouts two weeks after he suffered the cut over his right eye that delayed his fight with Muhammad Ali.
  • Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is seen during a training session on Sept. 28, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire, before his world heavyweight championship fight against champion in title George Foreman on Oct. 30, 1974.
  • Muhammad Ali is mobbed by his supporters in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • Muhammad Ali hugs his mother in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • Heavyweight boxer George Foreman holds a press conference at N’sele, near Kinshasa in Zaire, Sept. 18, 1974. This was the first time he faced the press since suffering a cut over his right eye.
  • Muhammad Ali raises his arms during a training session.
  • Muhammad Ali pauses during training in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • Muhammad Ali fools around in his car in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • 
Muhammad Ali with a child in Zaire.

 
  • Muhammad Ali wipes his face as he talks to the press after a training session in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • George Foreman works out after his eye injury, in preparation for his fight against Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire on Oct. 2, 1974.
  • Muhammad Ali raises his arms as he is about to be weighed before the start of the championship.
  • At the stadium, spectators stand underneath a portrait of Zaire’s President Mobutu.
  • Joe Frazier who had defeated Muhammad Ali in a previous match talks to Belinda, Ali’s wife on Oct. 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • Two Zairian spectators are seen before the match in Kinshasa, Zaire.
  • South African singer Myriam Makeba wears a Muhammad Ali badge.
  • Muhammad Ali climbs on the ring between the American and the Zairian flags displayed before the fight.
  • George Foreman arrives on the ring for the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Muhammad Ali, on the right, throws a punch at George Foreman during the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship.
  • Muhammad Ali avoids a punch by George Foreman during the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • George Foreman sits in his corner during the fight.
  • Muhammad Ali seen during the fight.
  • Perspiration flies from the head of defending champion George Foreman as he takes a hit from challenger Muhammad Ali in the seventh round in their world heavyweight championship bout dubbed “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire on Oct. 30, 1974.
  • Muhammad Ali turns to look as the referee bends over George Foreman who had been knocked out by Ali.
  • Aerial view of George Foreman on canvas during count by referee Zach Clayton after round 8 knockout by Muhammad Ali at Stade du 20 Mai in Kinshasa, Zaire on Oct. 30, 1974..
  • A crowd invades the ring after Muhammad Ali (center) knocked out George Foreman.
  • Boxing promoter Don King rejoicing at the outcome of the fight.
  • Muhammad Ali raises his fist during his fight against George Foreman at a Kinshasa sports stadium.

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No one expected Muhammad Ali to win “The Rumble in the Jungle,” arguably the most famous fight of his legendary boxing career.

At 32, Ali was considered washed up in some circles, his greatest victories long behind him. His opponent, on the other hand, was the formidable 25-year-old George Foreman, who was far removed from his cuddly latter-day persona as a grill pitchman.

Foreman had already demolished two of Ali’s most accomplished foes, Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, in brutal knockouts that left most boxing fans wondering not if he would beat Ali, but how badly.

The so-called “Rumble in the Jungle,” which took place in the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) on October 30, 1974, was one of the most heavily-hyped sporting events of all time — thanks to the unique talents of promoter Don King. Both fighters stood to make millions no matter what the result, although the undisputed heavyweight title was also at stake.

The fight was preceded by an elaborate music festival, which featured an incredible line-up including the likes of James Brown, The Spinners, Bill Withers and B.B. King.

Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the big bout, Ali did his best to psych out his opponent with his familiar put-downs and claims that his finesse in the ring would trump Foreman’s brute force.

Once the fight began, it initially looked like Ali’s colorful boasting was all for naught. Foreman punished Ali with a relentless stream of punches in round after round. And still Ali remained upright throughout, taunting Foreman with digs like, “They told me you could punch, George!”

It was all part of a strategy devised by Ali, later christened “rope-a-dope,” to induce Foreman to wear himself early through punching. In the eighth round, as Foreman began to look visibly tired, Ali came alive and unleashed a flurry of jabs on the heavily favored reigning champ.

To chants of “Ali boma ye” (which translates to “Ali kill him” — the African crowd favored Ali because of his reputation as anti-war rebel in the U.S.), the master knocked out the upstart and, in one of the most shocking upsets in the history of boxing, regained his title.

Ali’s victory kick-started the second half of his career, which saw him lose and regain his heavyweight title for historic a third time. He would have other memorable fights before retiring for good in 1981, but, for most Ali fans, his triumph in “The Rumble in the Jungle” is what cemented his status as a cultural icon and inspiration for generations of people who strive to overcome the doubters and beat the odds.

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