Watch Rumble in the Jungle highlights – 44 years since the epic Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman mega-fight in Zaire
- On October 30, 1974, Ali caused one of the biggest upsets in boxing history
- Feared heavyweight champion Foreman was the 70s version of Mike Tyson
It was the fight of the century between two of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. The Rumble in the Jungle was 44 years ago today, on October 30, 1974 in Zaire.
The preamble to the fight was like nothing seen before in the history of boxing, especially given the wildly contrasting personalities of its two main players. George Foreman, the bludgeoning world heavyweight champion who ruled the division through fear much like Mike Tyson did two decades later, against Muhammad Ali, the Louisville Lip who converted to Islam, avoided fighting in Vietnam, was stripped of his titles and was now making an unlikely comeback at the age of 32.
Watch the preamble to Rumble in the Jungle
What few modern fight fans fail to understand was just how much of an underdog Ali was going into the fight. He had not boxed professionally for three years before he was allowed back into the ring and his record included two losses – to Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, though he beat the latter in a rematch.
Foreman, 25 at the time, boasted a 40-0 record including brutal victories over Frazier and Norton. He had a sledgehammer of a punch and few thought Ali would be able to last more than a couple of rounds against the champion.
The days leading up to the fight was one of the most colourful in boxing theatre, mostly because of Ali’s hyper personality and goading of the rather stoic champion.
Watch highlights of Rumble in the Jungle
But once the pre-fight antics were completed, the world saw one of the of the most intriguing eight rounds of heavyweight boxing. Ali did not float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as he did when dominating the division in the 60s but he showed he could take a punch, employing a rope-a-dope tactic that lured in Foreman.
After pounding Ali with blow after blow for seven and a half rounds, Foreman’s arms were spent and Ali picked him off in the eighth, knocking him to the canvas and then celebrating. It was arguably one of the greatest victories in professional boxing and enhanced the legend that was Muhammad Ali.