30 October 1974

The “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and GeorgeForeman takes place in Zaire.

he match was scheduled for September. Both men had spent much of the summer of 1974 training in Zaire and getting their bodies acclimated to the warm, tropical climate. Ali was known for his speed and technical skill, while Foreman’s asset was his sheer size and raw power. The younger Foreman was the overwhelming favourite against 32-year-old Ali. But Foreman was injured during training, nursing a cut near his eye, so the fight was pushed to 30 October.

The match took place in Kinshasa’s Mai 20 Stadium. Round one saw Ali attack Foreman with a “”right-hand lead,”” a cheeky shot thrown to surprise the heavyweight champion and give Ali a psychological advantage. Ali caught Foreman nine times in the first round using this technique, but failed to knock him out. In round two, Ali employed a new technique: He began to lean on the rope and cover up, allowing Foreman to punch him on the arms and body. This sapped Foreman’s energy without seriously hurting Ali. He dubbed the strategy rope-a-dope. Ali also delivered straight punches to Foreman’s face and leaned on the heavyweight champ to make him support his weight. He also used psychological tactics, like taunting Foreman to enrage and tire him. Near the end of the fight, Foreman hammered Ali with a huge body blow, and according to Foreman, Ali whispered to him, “”Is that all you got, George?”” to which Foreman thought, “”Yep… that’s about it.”” After several rounds of this, Ali had exhausted Foreman. By the eighth round, Foreman’s wild punches and weak defense became increasingly ineffective. Ali delivered several right hooks to the heavyweight champ, followed by a five-punch combination, and finished with a left hook and hard right that caused Foreman to stumble to the canvas. He was counted out by the referee.

Rumble in the Jungle became one of the most famous fights of all times. Against all odds, Ali regained his title against Foreman, a younger, stronger fighter. It also displayed Ali’s tactical techniques to full effect: He was able to take strong blows and he alternated his fighting style—from surprise jabs to rope-a-dope, to taunting and tiring Foreman—to great effect.