66 user 74 critic

When We Were Kings (1996)

1:43 | Trailer
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.


Leon Gast
Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Muhammad Ali ... Self
George Foreman ... Self
Don King ... Self
James Brown ... Self
B.B. King ... Self
Mobutu Sese Seko ... Self (President of Zaire)
Spike Lee ... Self
Norman Mailer ... Self - Writer
George Plimpton ... Self - Writer
Thomas Hauser ... Self
Malick Bowens ... Self - Artist (as Malik Bowens)
Lloyd Price Lloyd Price ... Self - Concert Promoter
The Spinners ... Themselves
Miriam Makeba ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Drew Bundini Brown Drew Bundini Brown ... Self - 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

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 »


[first lines]
Muhammad Ali: Yeah, I'm from Africa. Yeah, Africa's my home. Damn America and what America thinks. Yeah, I live in America; but, Africa's the home of the black man. And I was a slave 400 years ago and I'm going back home to fight among my brothers. Yeah!
See more »


Featured in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »


Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud
Written by James Brown and Pee Wee Ellis (as Alfred James Ellis)
Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI)
(Admin. By Warner Tamerlane Publishing Corp.) (BMI)
Performed by James Brown
Featuring Fred Wesley
See more »

User Reviews

Great Look at Historic Fight
11 May 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

When We Were Kings (1996)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Extremely entertaining, Oscar-winning documentary covering the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, which became known as the Rumble in the Jungle. Through interview footage as well as archival footage, director Leon Gast's film perfectly documents the historic match and everything leading up to it. The boxing match itself is legendary and something most people know about and it's perfectly shown here but I think the real key to the documentary is everything we're shown leading up to the fight. This, of course, includes a lot of stuff dealing with Ali trash talking and getting involved with the African people. There are several scenes where Ali is simply out in the streets working out and trying to pump up the African people and of course get them in his corner. By contrast, we then see interview segments with Foreman where he's obviously not as deeply in with the people and doesn't have the same connection that Ali does. One really gets a great idea of the political climate heading up to the fight and the stuff with Ali training and just being himself are truly priceless. It's also fun hearing about how his career was thought to have been on the low-end as everyone was thinking that Foreman would destroy and possibly kill him in the ring. When we finally get to the fight footage it's presented in such a way that you really see what Ali was going for and how he pulled the upset. We see some terrific footage that is broken down and we're shown every little point that helped get Ali the win. WHEN WE WERE KINGS shows a historic fight and the surroundings around it and you can't help but be thankful that such an important event was captured in such a great form.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 66 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | French

Release Date:

14 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

When We Were Kings See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,479, 27 October 1996

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed