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When We Were Kings (1996)

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A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.


Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Mobutu Sese Seko ...
Himself (President of Zaire)
Himself - Writer
Himself - Writer
Thomas Hauser ...
Himself - Artist (as Malik Bowens)
Lloyd Price ...
Himself - Concert Promoter
The Spinners ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Drew Bundini Brown ...
Himself - Ali's Ass't Trainer (as Drew 'Bundini' Brown)


It's 1974, Muhammad Ali is 32 and thought by many to be past his prime. George Foreman is ten years younger and the Heavyweight champion of the world. Promoter Don King wants to make a name for himself and offers both fighters five million dollars apiece to fight one another, and when they accept, King has only to come up with the money. He finds a backer in Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of Zaire and the "Rumble in the Jungle" is set. A musical festival, featuring the America's top black performers, like James Brown and B.B. King, is also planned. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The untold story of the Rumble in the Jungle


Documentary | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for images of violence, brief nudity and some language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 February 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amikor királyok voltunk - Muhammad Ali  »

Box Office


$2,666,118 (USA) (6 June 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the film won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali came to the stage with the filmmakers to show they had made peace. Foreman helped Ali, stricken with Parkinson's Disease, climb the steps to the stage. See more »


[Responding to Howard Cosell]
Muhammad Ali: I'm gonna let everybody know that that thing you got on your head is a phony, and it comes from the tail of a pony!
See more »


Referenced in Ali (2001) See more »


In a Cold Sweat
Written by James Brown and Pee Wee Ellis (as Alfred James Ellis)
Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI)
Admin. By Unichappell Music, Inc. (BMI)
Performed by James Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

Clearly deserving of the Oscar it received
28 April 1999 | by (West Palm Beach, Florida) – See all my reviews

I recall attending a closed circuit telecast of the Ali-Foreman fight in Miami in 1974, and when "The Greatest" actually pulled it off - regaining HIS title after the enforced exile - most of the audience went nuts. Rarely have I been in an environment of such absolute joy. This first class documentary leaves me wishing I had been in Zaire to experience that emotion "live". This is terrific film making about one of the most complicated and extraordinary heroes of the twentieth century and is richly deserving of the Academy Award which it received.

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Music Query?? mikeyspen
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