1970s |

The Rumble In The Jungle: Ali Regains The Belt - 10/30/1974

On this day in 1974, Muhammad Ali aged 32, becomes, for the second time, the world heavyweight champion after knocking out 25-year-old champion George Foreman in the eighth round of the fight named "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire. 

Ali who had lost his title seven years before after he was accused by the government for draft-dodging, which led to the withdrawer of his license by the boxing commission. Muhammad Ali became the second dethroned champion in the history of boxing to reclaim the title following his victory in Zaire.

Don King who was the show promoter had initially named the fight "From the Slave Ship to the Championship!" However, the title had to be changed when the President of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko, believed the title had another hidden meaning and then ordered that all flyers and banners be burned. In addition, the heavyweight championship match was the first of its kind on Africa soil. It was reported that the government of West African republic staged the event, while the President of Zaire paid each fighter $5 dollar for honoring the call.

The move was part of the plot to display the nation's rich culture and heritage to the rest of the world. In Ali's words, "I agreed because I wanted to establish a keen relationship between black Americans and Africans," he also added, "personally, I believed the fight was more about racism, Vietnam, and the likes". He stated further, "the fight, Rumble in the Jungle made the whole country more conscious."

The organizers of the fight timed the fight to correspond with the time in the U.S. and exactly 4:30 in the morning of October 30, more than 60, 000 spectators gathered in the moonlight at the Stade du 20 Mai to watch the fight. The crowd were heard shouting in their local dialect "Ali, bomaye" meaning "Ali, kill him". Ali who had been provoking Foreman for several weeks, while the young champ was excited to beat the hell out of the ex-champ.

As soon as the bell rang, Foreman started punching Ali with his famous sledgehammer blows, Ali leans against the rope and tactically block as many as he could, believing that he would wear Foreman out.

Not long into the fifth round, the young champion was getting tired; all his sledgehammer punches became weak and vague. By the eighth round, a hard left punch caused Foreman to lose his grip and fell flat on the ring. He was counted out by the referee in just two seconds to go in the round.

Muhammad Ali retired in 1981 after regaining the title once more. While Foreman on the other hand, retired in 1977 but kept training making him to become the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.  

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Kelly Sutherland

Writer

Hi! I'm Kelly. My favorite time period was the 70s. I had a boatloads of fun traveling around with my close friends spreading love and just living my life to the fullest... if you know what I mean ;) Now I enjoy sitting in my cozy nook writing and learning about history.