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The Rumble in the Jungle (1974)

Thirty-Two year-old Muhammad Ali takes on what was at that time, one of the most powerful boxers in the history of the sport, in one last shot at greatness. Ali employs his "rope-a-dope" ... See full summary »
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Himself - Challenger (archive footage)
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Himself - Champion (archive footage)
Marv Albert ...
Himself - Host
Ferdie Pacheco ...
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Thirty-Two year-old Muhammad Ali takes on what was at that time, one of the most powerful boxers in the history of the sport, in one last shot at greatness. Ali employs his "rope-a-dope" tactic for the first time, but will it be enough to recapture the greatest prize in boxing? Sometimes more entertaining than the actual fight are some of the press conferences Ali held before the fight. Written by Classic Camp <lbcamp1@yahoo.com>

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One of boxing's most celebrated upsets.

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1990 (USA)  »

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Referenced in Survivor: Men vs. Women Rumble in the Jungle (2003) See more »

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The greatest upset of all time...
28 March 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

When then Cassius Clay outboxed brooding career criminal Sonny Liston in 1964, it was considered one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. A study in perpetual motion, Clay took the fight to his senior opponent from the opening bell. So-called boxing experts were shocked into stunned silence by the disrespectful display: dropping both hands, Clay taunted Liston first with "an easy target" (and countering the champion's uncertain attempts to capitalize on it) and then by verbally taunting him in front of a worldwide audience as well. Even when Liston managed to temporarily blind Clay by getting ointment from his gloves into Clay's eyes (Liston can be clearly seen, on several occasions, actually placing a glove against Clay's face and then WIPING the glove across his face), it was all for naught: Clay not only cleared his eyes, but came back at Liston even more furiously in the next round. It was a humbling experience. Liston quit on his stool.

In 1974, Ali was 32 and had 2 losses on his record (to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, who had both been knocked out by champion George Foreman). Ali's chances of beating Foreman- who had been likened to a younger and stronger version of his idol, Sonny Liston- were approximately one billion to zilch. In the 2 aforementioned losses, Ali had been on the receiving end of two severe beatings (for 15 rounds against Frazier, getting knocked flat on his back in the 15th round, and having his jaw broken by Norton). Although he had avenged both losses, the rematches had gone the grueling 12-round distance. Foreman, shocking the world, had stopped Frazier in 2 brutal rounds, dropping him 3 times in both the first and the second rounds to become champion. Norton had been felled in 2 as well, going down 3 times in the second round before the referee mercifully stopped the slaughter. Ali, now the number one contender after the back-to-back decision wins over Norton and Frazier, was in line for a title shot. Few held out much hope; there were even those who felt that Foreman might literally KILL his elder opponent. Foreman, deadpan as was his wont, put it simply: "I'm gonna make like an exorcist and BEAT the Devil out of him." So he thought.

Casting caution to the wind, Ali swarmed all over the bigger, stronger champion from the opening bell, driving sharp right hand leads to the head. Foreman, perhaps the most fearsome puncher in the history of heavyweight boxing, was clearly surprise by the assault and trudged after his elusive assailant- who would stop suddenly and throw a solid combination to the head, tie him up, and then move away again. Without preamble, Ali would put up his hands and drop back against the ropes, a suddenly stationary target. Foreman would wade in, wind up- and be nailed with yet another piston-like combination before being tied up by Ali again. Foreman seemed to shrug most of these blows off in the early going, but they were landing cleanly and a mouse appeared below one of Foreman's eyes. Unconvinced that he could lose to Ali- the world press had said so, after all, and they were boxing experts-, Foreman continued to wade in with heavy-handed haymakers that sometimes found their mark. But Ali had learned long ago how to roll with a punch or to smother it, how to play the ropes, how to tie up and outwrestle a stronger opponent. It was a crash course in the finer points of boxing and Foreman was proving to be a slow learner. (Not that Foreman was ever just a puncher: he'd shown, time and again, that he knew how to inflict some serious damage on an opponent, but he'd also shown some more than rudimentary boxing skills along the way. He didn't waste punches but threw them economically, winding up whenever he felt he needed just that added bit of torque required to bring down a wall. When it came to Force equals Mass times Acceleration, Foreman was the Einstein of Punching. And he was unloading all of his ordinance on Ali.) Ali leaned forward to provoke an attack, rolled back against the ropes to avoid the incoming barrage, and then tied up or countered with combinations. The strategy worked, and Foreman began to visibly tire. Ali coasted, taking his time, and his trainers grew more and more frantic. Ali bided his time- and then caught the weary, stumbling champion with a sudden, sharp combination that sent him toppling like a felled tree to the canvas. For MY money, this was the single greatest upset in the history of heavyweight boxing (though Jim Braddaock's win over Max Baer comes close). (Douglas-Tyson ain't even in the running, as Tyson's record had been built mostly against retirees coming out of retirement or guys just out of rehab- or headed there.) The commentary on this fight is mostly of the fast-forward variety, though anything said by Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee should be given special attention. The ten is for The Fight itself.


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