On this day in history, October 30, 1974, boxer Muhammad Ali became the heavyweight champion of the world after defeating George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” event.
Taking place in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the fight featured a 32-year-old Ali and a 25-year-old Foreman.
Ali had previously held the heavyweight title but lost it in 1967 when he refused to enlist in the military.
He was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, and had his boxing license suspended. However, his sentence was later overturned by the Supreme Court.
Ali returned to boxing in 1970 and faced Joe Frazier in the famous “Fight of the Century” in 1971, which he lost.
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After defeating Frazier, Ali had the opportunity to compete against the reigning champion, George Foreman.
The “Rumble in the Jungle” was organized by Zaire’s president, Mobutu Sese Seko, who personally paid Ali and Foreman $5 million to host the fight as a way to boost the country’s tourism industry.
For Ali, the fight held deeper meaning as he aimed to establish a connection between African-Americans and Africans and bring attention to racial issues and the Vietnam War.
Despite being the underdog, Ali confidently proclaimed his victory over Foreman in the pre-fight press conferences, showcasing his unique rhyming and boasting style.
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During the fight, Ali employed a surprising tactic known as the “rope-a-dope,” where he leaned against the ropes and allowed Foreman to exhaust himself with unsuccessful punches.
Foreman’s punches gradually lost their power as the rounds progressed, and in the eighth round, Ali seized the opportunity to launch a counter-attack, ultimately knocking out Foreman and reclaiming the heavyweight title.
Largely broadcast live to American television viewers during primetime hours, the fight garnered significant attention worldwide.
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With this victory, Ali regained his status as the heavyweight boxing champion, a title he would hold until 1978 when he lost to Leon Spinks.
Ali retired from boxing in 1981, leaving behind a record of 56 wins and 5 losses.
He passed away on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74, and was laid to rest in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
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A true legend, Muhammad Ali left an indelible mark on the sport of boxing and the world as a whole.
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Christine Rousselle is a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital.