On this day in 1974 was The Rumble in the Jungle. It was the iconic boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Everyone expected Foreman to destroy Ali. Foreman was stronger and arguably as fast. But Ali seems to have developed his rope-a-dope strategy while in the ring. Using it, he managed to wear down Foreman, who collapsed in the eighth round.
I remember standing in a bookstore reading the introduction of a book about Muhammad Ali. It was written by George Foreman. Foreman talked about the fight. He said if he knew what he knows now, he thinks that Ali still would have figured out a way to beat him — that Ali was just that great and intelligent a boxer. All I could think was that Foreman was one class act. And he might well be right. But clearly they were both among the greatest boxers of all time.
Most of what I know about The Rumble in the Jungle comes from the film When We Were Kings. It’s well worth checking out if you get a chance. Most of it is not directly about the fight. There was so much going on around the fight — especially music. And the politics are well on display with all of the paranoia of the villain Mobutu Sese Seko.