The Rumble in the Jungle
George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30th 1974. The fight was held at 4:00 am so it would be live in the US at 10:00 pm eastern time. Big George Foreman was the heavyweight champion of the world. Muhammad Ali the former champ was now 32 years old and and a big underdog in the fight.
George Foreman entered the fight with a record of 40-0.
Muhammad Ali entered the fight with a record of 44-2.
Most boxing expert gave Ali little to no chance to win. Of course Ali didn't think he was going to lose and told the unbelieving world who'd counted him out. Ali had lost the Super Fight to Joe Frazier and he'd also lost to Ken Norton. Big George had beaten both of those fighters just prior to fighting Ali.
Norton and Frazier had both lost to Foreman, and both of them had been knocked out in the 2nd round. Ali had lost to Ken Norton, but then defeated him in a rematch. There are some who feel Norton won both. It was easy to see why most experts didn't give Muhammad Ali a chance.
The People's Champ
Muhammad Ali was trying to beat the odds. He wanted the people on his side and with competitive banter and his reputation got them there. He put on the whole show for the fans in Zaire. He made himself the good guy and Foreman the bad guy. Ali Bomaye. Ali Kill Him.
George Foreman gladly adopted the role as bad guy. He brought his dog to the press conference, and according to Burt Sugar it was the same breed that was used to keep them in captivity. They were not friendly to George - The bad guy role ended up getting to him.
Ali came out in round number one with a little bounce in his movement. He moved around the ring in a similar fashion to the young Ali. He appeared to me moving well enough to keep Foreman outside. Muhammad had snap on his punches, and Foreman seemed to be willing to land whatever he could. Foreman threw very powerful punches.
In the second round the bounce was gone from Muhammad Ali. He'd slowed down and his back was on the ropes. Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee was shouting "Get Off of the Ropes," but Ali continued to back up to the ropes while Foreman aggressively tried to knock Ali out. Ken Norton and Joe Frazier had gone down in two, but Muhammad Ali was still standing.
Ali entered the 4th round down 2-1, and that's if you gave him the close 1st round. I had the first round for Ali and the score 2-1. Ali moved around a little as the fourth round opened. It appeared that he wanted to move a little, but Foreman would force him back. Ali buckled Foreman just a little, or maybe he was just off balance when he got hit. It angered him a bit and he opened up. Both men were getting tired. Ali tried to hold and lay on the ropes.
I had it 3-1 Foreman after the 4th round.
When the 5th round started Foreman went right after Ali. He forced him back against the ropes and pounded on him. George threw a lot of punches in round five. Ali looked tired and stayed on the ropes most of the round. Toward the end of the round he opened up on George and land a flurry of punches. The shots were straight down the middle and had some power on them. Foreman had been more aggressive, but didn't seem to be hurting Ali. Ali won the round with the more effective shots in the last minute.
As the 6th round starts Foreman's eyes were slightly swelling and he was absolutely pissed. I think he knew Ali had stolen round five in the last minute. George was again aggressively trying to end Ali's night. Ali didn't seem to want to be on the ropes, and he fought like hell not to get put there. He ended up there absorbing more power shots from Big George. Again in the final minute Ali opened up, but he didn't steal another round. He won the 6th before the final minute.
Foreman had been getting tired and a little sloppy. In the 7th round Ali probably noticed how bad he was getting. George steadily came right after him. George continued to pound on Ali. The blows were not what they had been, and Ali knew he could take them. With his back to the ropes he let George punch away. He was checking to see what Big George had left. Joe Frazier who was there helping call the fight said, "George don't look like he's gonna make it to the end." It was obvious that Foreman was tired.
Foreman had only been taken into the 8th round one time in four years. Ali got him there and I think he knew he had him beat. Big George was lumbering around the ring. As he punched he seemed to try and lay in on Ali for balance. There was nowhere near the force behind the punches. It was all weight and the blows didn't have any sting.
With about thirty seconds left in the round Ali found the opening. A straight right hand started it all. Ali turned and found another angle to throw the right hand. Foreman seemed to realize Ali was turning him and he turned with him. The right hand hit him and he continued to go. He rolled downward as he fell and ended up flat on his back with the ref counting.
Muhammad Ali was champion again. He'd always said he was the Greatest of All Time, and he defied the odds and proved it to anyone who had a doubt. The Rope-a-Dope was born. Ali convinced the world that Foreman hadn't put him on the ropes, but that he willingly went there. He'd lay on the ropes and wear him down over the course of the eight rounds it went. This probably should have been the end of Ali's career, as Ferdie Pacheco once said. Ali would go on to lose the title, and he'd regain the championship, but the hits he took against Foreman damaged him. Muhammad Ali proved he was the greatest champion ever.