Sports Time Machine Part 2: Rumble in the Jungle
Part two of the time machine takes us back to what boxing fans called the Rumble in the Jungle. This event was boxing the match was between Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman. Many believe Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer of all time. The fight took place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. The promoter of the fight Don King wanted this fight to be in a place where the population was mostly African-American. At the time the US was having to deal with the Vietnam War.
The conflict with the war was between sending troops over to war that there was no solution. In the beginning, most of the population was for the war but as it got further and farther along their opinion changed. Ali, along with many men had their name called in the military draft. Although he refused because of his religious beliefs. Ali shortly after winning his championship fight against Sonny Liston he because of a Muslim. Authorities arrested him at what was, at the time, a draft facility. When his name was called they said Cassius Clay which was his born name but he told them to use Muhammad Ali. After he was bailed out the press got a hold of him and he told them he was not going to kill innocent poor people.
He then went to court over him being drafted. The trial went on for a while. Boxing stripped him of his heavyweight championship. So now the title was vacant. Ali closest adversary Joe Frazier eventually laid claim to the belt. Ali struggled after he lost the title because the court took his passports so he couldn’t fight anywhere outside the U.S. So Joe Frazier needed an opponent for his title. Climbing through the ranks was a tall and very big man named George Foreman. Foreman used his power and size to dominate his way up the ladder and with Ali out he got his shot at Frazier for the title.
The match between Frazier and Foreman was set and was watching from home. Foreman came out and dominated Frazier right from the get-go. It took Foreman a very short time to defeat Frazier. Now with most of the population going against what the Vietnam War was all about Ali had support. Ali was granted some boxing licenses and had a fight against Jerry Quarry. He would go on to defeat Quarry and now he had the build-up to facing Foreman for the title.
Going into Rumble in the Jungle, many thought there was no way Ali could defeat Foreman. They also believed that Foreman might kill Ali. Ali had never faced a man with his power and Foreman was younger than Ali. Even the promoter Don King had Foreman penciled in to win the fight. The fight hit a delay with Foreman suffered an injury during a sparring session. He sustained a cut above his eye. The thoughts that Foreman would leave he didn’t like Zaire. Ali called to the local media to make sure he didn’t leave the country. He of course never did leave Zaire.
Finally, Rumble in the Jungle happened and like all of Ali fights he used vocal tactics to try to get in the head of his opponent. Before every boxing match, the fighters meet in the ring with the referee where the referee goes over the instructions. During the instructions, the referee warned Ali to be quiet or he was going to deduct points from him. Ali trainer knew he had to stay away from Foreman’s power. As the match began Ali danced around like he always did try to stay away from Foreman. Ali trainer stressed to him to stay away.
Ali got an idea of how to defeat Foreman, tire him out. His idea received the name of the rope a dope. He continued the rest of the fight laying against the ropes taking shot after shot from Foreman. After several rounds, Foreman began to tire and Ali used his jabs and started to make Foreman’s face look awful. Foreman continued to try to pin Ali and in the eighth round, Ali had enough. Ali hit Foreman with a vicious combination that floored Foreman. Announcer Howard Cosell named the fall that Foreman took as a tree falling in the forest.
Ali watched the referee count to 10 and the knockout of Foreman was complete. Ali raised his hands in the air after the victory. Shortly after the referee raised his hand Ali collapsed in the ring from exhaustion. He had won the Rumble in the Jungle. The title that boxing took from him because he refused drafted was once again his. He overcame all the odds to win after many told him that he couldn’t beat Foreman. He proved everyone wrong.
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