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The Rumble in the Jungle lives again
on November 9, 2014
A classic documentary (copyright 1996) of the famous fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire in which the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko personally promised both fighters $5 million apiece, regardless of who won.
I had always avoided watching boxing, until a number of worthy films with boxing themes convinced me that sometimes the drama of it is worth viewing.
The dust jacket refers to this as Ali "at the peak of his triumphant career". I think that is hardly true; he had already served prison time as a refusal to be inducted for the Vietnam War; the extra age and being out of competition ages 25-29 were substantial setbacks to his career. Nevertheless he still remains the only person to have won the World Heavyweight Champion boxing award
three times: against Sonny Liston, George Foreman and the lesser Leon Spinx.
In Zaire essentially nobody but Ali himself thought that he could beat George Forman. Ali was significantly slower than earlier in his career. Two boxers he had fought in the past, Frazier and Norton, had each beaten Ali in the past; George Foreman had knocked them both out in round 2 in fights with them. In 1974 Ali was already 32; Foreman was in fine shape at age 25, and is still considered the ninth most powerful puncher in all of boxing history. Perhaps Ali himself didn't think he could win the fight,
though he would never admit that in public. Yet he did. As Foreman later admitted, "He out-thought me and out-fought me..."
This is a great documentary of the fight between two great boxers, with very different styles both in the ring and overall life. Definitely worth watching.