The fighting style of our hero gave natural wildness and bestial rage. Big George imposed on opponents a desperate exchange of blows from which he invariably emerged victorious, and, as a rule, ending the battles with victories already in the first rounds. His most powerful wild hooks and uppercuts with both hands forced opponents to slam to the ropes and then helplessly to the ring. George walked ahead like a bulldozer, and continuously threw blows, not really worrying about his own defense. Foreman’s outstanding athleticism allowed him to set an impressive record of 37 victorious battles for three and a half years, 34 of which he completed ahead of schedule.

On January 22, 1973, the 24-year-old Forman tore up for incomplete two rounds of the then absolute world champion, hitherto unbeaten compatriot Joe Frazier. In the course of the fight, George literally did not let the 1964 Olympic champion come to his senses, knocking him down six times. After this shocking victory of the boxing world, George continued to wreck his opponents, successfully defending world titles in the WBC and WBA versions. In March 1974, Forman’s next victim was the famous fighter Ken Norton, with whom George figured out in one round with a little, knocking him three times onto the ring floor.

Ali VS Foreman was greatest opposition. Before the fight with Mohammed Ali Forman, who had returned to the ring by that time, was in the status of the clear favorite? Experts believed that from the bulk, power and rage of Big George the star ex-world champion will not save either his proprietary maneuverability, or manual speed, or great reflexes. However, Ali chose a tactic unexpected for the majority, deciding to simply endure the famous bombardment of Foreman, wiping the ropes with his back. And in the stadium of the capital of Zaire Kinshasa, under the rays of the mercilessly scorching African sun, George wiped out for the first few rounds, continuously striking his wild blows from both hands on the challenger. And in the 8th three-minute session, having picked the right moment for the smashing attack, Mohammed Ali knocked out Foreman, who was already in a sluggish state.

Fight “Rumble in the Jungle“, October 30, 1974

This fight was the first for boxing promoter Don King, an absolutely mythical figure of the whole world of boxing. It was he who proposed to hold a duel in the very center of Africa – Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), having persuaded the Zaire dictator Mobut to allot twelve million dollars to this (the retreat of both boxers was five million). Upon learning that the duel will take place on the “Black Continent”, Mohammed Ali stated that this fight is a struggle for a “big black deed”, to which Forman objected that he is “blacker than Ali twice.”

Due to the harsh climatic conditions, the boxers arrived in Zaire in three months to better prepare for the upcoming fight. During trainings, Ali spent a lot of time working with the ropes – later, experts would call this rope-a-dope tactic to drag themselves as far as possible from the ring when protecting their heads. In many ways, it was thanks to this manner of fighting that Ali won the fight and many subsequent fights, including the legendary fight against Joe Frazier, who, by the way, acted as a commentator on this fight.

Due to the fact that the fight was scheduled for eight in the morning for the convenience of a huge television audience – mostly American, the boxers were physically addicted to the third round. The more powerful and aggressive Foreman constantly attacked, but all the blows fell on defense, besides, he was not such a technical and thoughtful boxer as Ali and mostly hoped for the crushing power of his blow. Experts then said that Foreman has only two virtues: a left jab and a right jab. Ali, properly defending himself, regularly counterattacked, focusing on the cross to his head. At the end of the eighth round, Ali struck the decisive right side against the exhausted Foreman and sent him to the floor. The judge, not counting to ten, decided to stop the fight.

After the battle, Ali will declare himself the greatest boxer of all time and say that no one can beat him until he is fifty years old. Despite the verbal picks in the press between the fighters before and after the match, the relationship between them cannot be called hostile – at the Oscar ceremony while receiving the award for the film “When We Were Kings” dedicated to this fight, Forman will even hold Ali’s hand.

Muhammad Ali VS George Foreman: no women and ice cream

Don King was just starting a promoter career. Acquainted with Ali, he offered to fight in Africa. I liked the idea. “There will be a struggle for a great black deed!” – Mohammed Ali said. King, who failed to find sponsors in the United States, met with the leader of Zaire (now DR Congo) Mobutu Sese Seko, an African dictator who would one day lead the country to one of the largest civil wars in human history. To improve his image in the international arena, the politician agreed to allocate $ 12 million to the battle. Each boxer was supposed to get five million, but the money for them faded into the background. They wanted to prove their superiority in the ring. A few days before the fight, Foreman coach Archie Moore handed Ali’s letter, which contained only one poetic line: “You’ve gotten too big gold”. Moore who wrote these lines once lost to Ali by knockout.

The aged Mohammed Ali was called the underdog. Even Kilroy feared for his ward. “One thing that worried me the most was that suddenly Ali would get seriously injured,” Kilroy recalls. – I found out if there are good hospitals in Zaire. And I thought that if necessary, Ali could be transported by plane to Paris. I told Mohammed about it. “Do not worry about me. Think of George better,” his answer was. In order not to bring the matter to the hospital, Mohammed carefully prepared for battle. He arrived in Zaire 55 days before the fight to get acclimatized and prepare well for the battle with the young favorite. He settled in a small village 40 miles from Kinshasa.

“If you had a fight in America, Ali couldn’t get such an impressive form,” Kilroy said. – He was in a place where people could not reach him, to prevent his preparation. He was free to do what he wanted. He could rest, and at the same time prepare. We had our own chefs, our own little village. But the press was also with us. Journalists shared a dinner table with us. We lived as one, friendly family.” Mohammed Ali understood that only competent, well-planned preparation for a fight could help him cope with the invulnerable Foreman, who effortlessly dealt with rivals of any level. Foreman did not like to be in the ring for a long time, preferring to end the battles with quick knockouts. Before the “battle in the jungle” he was called the best puncher in the world.

Every day, Mohammed Ali got up early in the morning and went for a run, and often residents of Zaire joined him, among who were old men, women and children. They saw in him an idol and gave preference to Mohammed, which was reflected during the battle, when the hall chanted: “Get rid of him, Ali!” Ali’s daily schedule included intensive training in an improvised gym and theoretical classes. In some ways he had to limit himself. Among the prohibitions that particularly bothered Ali, was the forced refusal to communicate with women. He often told Kilroy: “I miss the ice cream and beautiful girls so much!”

Greatest champion

On the eve of the battle, Ali had a telephone conversation with Kas D’Amato, a trainer who once helped Mike Tyson to become the youngest heavyweight champion. “Kas was Ali’s spiritual mentor. He thought Kas was his shield, guardian angel in the ring.” Kilroy says.

D’Amato told Ali that Foreman is too expressive, so you need to show the seriousness of intentions at the first blow and turn Foreman’s strengths against him. “Fear is like a fire that can either burn your house or help prepare a steak. Everyone has fear, but it’s important to be able to control it,” Kas said. Ali reviewed Foreman’s best fights, and noticed that he lacked stamina. He considered that the first rounds in which he should stay on his feet would be critical. The longer the battle lasts, the less chance Foreman has – Ali believed. Before the fight, Kilroy went to Foreman’s dressing room when his hands were bandaged. Foreman told Kilroy that Ali’s children would soon end up in an orphanage. “I smell death in the air,” added Foreman coach Archie Moore. Hearing the words of Moore from the manager, Ali just smiled and said: “I look forward to our battle!” On the night before the fight, Mohammed Ali was still nervous – he could not sleep at all. In the arena of Stade Du 20 Mai, he arrived by bus. About 60 thousand people gathered in the hall, almost all supported Ali.

The battle took place in conditions of high humidity and high temperature. This quickly affected the physical condition of the boxers. But Ali, despite this, conducted powerful counterattacks. His workouts were not in vain. Foreman, however, was also good, his punches often reached the goal, but Ali was on his feet, and in the eighth round sent an opponent on the floor. It was the first defeat of George Foreman.