Rumble in the Jungle in Images: 40 Years On
Was it the greatest sporting occasion of the 20th century? For many, the world heavyweight championship between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on 30 October 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire — dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle” — is unrivaled as the most compelling contest of all time. Forty years on from this legendary bout, we look back at a night which went down in history.
Foreman arrived in Africa as the undefeated world champion, Ali as the challenger. Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War had resulted in a ban from boxing and the stripping of his world title, while Foreman had risen to the top of the sport following a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games. “To me, it was like a charity fight,” Foreman told the BBC. “I’d heard Ali was desperately broke, so I thought I’d do him a favor. I got $5 million and I was willing to let him have $5 million.”
Both Foreman and Ali arrived in Zaire — now known as Democratic Republic of Congo — long before the fight to acclimatise to the conditions in Kinshasa. The fight was staged in Zaire with the aim of boosting tourism in the country and was accompanied by a three-day music festival.
Ali’s mother, Odetta Lee Clay, tends to her son three days before the fight. “I always felt like God made Muhammad special,” she said of Ali, “but I don’t know why God chose me to carry this child.”