46 Years Ago Ali Kayoed Foreman In “Rumble In Jungle”
45 years ago Muhammad Ali pulled off one of the signature moments of his entire career, when he knocked out the seemingly invincible George Foreman in a fight known as “The Rumble in the Jungle.” The fight was one of the most renowned fights in history.
Even though the fight was originally scheduled for September of 1974, a cut to the eye of Foreman in training delayed things until October 30th in Zaire, Africa.
The 60,000 seat “20th of May Stadium” was the site, as American promoter Don King put together a financial deal that involved the countries of Zaire, Libya and even Russian financing the be able to pay the fighters a combined $5 million purse.
Foreman was the unbeaten (40-0, 37 KOs) heavyweight champ, who had destroyed Joe Frazier knocking him down 9 times to take the title in January of 1973.
Meanwhile, Ali (44-2) was attempting to regain the championship after having lost to Frazier by 15-round decision in March of 1971.
And, the anticipation and build up for the fight was enhanced by the extra six week delay, and it ended up luring in over 50 million viewers to the closed-circuit broadcast. Reportedly, as many as a billion people may have seen the fight live worldwide and eventually on tape in the United States.
It was clearly the most watched single sporting event ever at that time.
As everything unfolded, it became clear that Foreman was intent on an early knockout by bombing away with both hands, as Ali laid back on the extra loose ropes doing what later became famous as, “the rope-a-dope.”
Little did Foreman (or anyone else) realize Ali was strategically grappling with Foreman and pulling his head down constantly to fatigue and wear him down. Foreman began to tire by the sixth and the seventh rounds and Ali began to score with left jabs and straight rights.
Foreman was still dangerous landing blows to Ali’s body, but could never put combinations together, as he fatigued.
Then came the fateful and dramatic 8th round, where Ali began wrestling with Foreman again along the ropes in the opening minute of the round, but also connected with a solid right. Foreman wearily swung at Ali.
The fighters continued to clinch and then suddenly, the challenger lashed out with a quick five punch combo that staggered the weary champ.
Ali then delivered an iconic straight right on Foreman’s chin that sent him staggering sideways and then to the canvas almost face first. Looking up exhaustedly at referee Zack Clayton, Foreman tried to keep up with the count, but was not fully on his feet at “10” and the fight was over.
Re-live the drama here:
Ali, a 4-1 underdog, had scored the huge upset to regain the title. And, he would reign for another four years before American Olympic hero Leon Spinks upset him in 1978. Ali avenged that Spinks lost later in the same year and became the first man to successfully regain the Heavyweight championship twice.
As for Foreman, he would fight on into his late 40’s and would regain two of the organization’s titles when he stunned Michael Moorer with a 10th round KO in 1994 at age 45. That made Foreman the oldest man to ever win a portion of the Heavyweight title.
However, if you remember one significant fight for Foreman’s career, it’s “Rumble in the Jungle” with Ali from 5 decades ago.
As for the new champ, he would go onto defeat Joe Frazier in their epic third fight, “The Thrilla in Manilla.” However, the end of his career became also known for Muhammad Ali loses, as he finished his career 56-5.