It’s not uncommon to hear people of the older generations criticise our modern day heavyweight boxing heroes, such as the Klitschko brothers, branding them as cumbersome, boring and even lazy, ironically, as they complain from their bar stools. These jibes are usually followed by a reference to the man who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee; a man who claimed he was so fast he could flick the switch of the light in his bedroom and be in bed before the light went out. Indeed, the incredible hype around Mohammed Ali was matched only by his ability to back it up in the ring.
One such example happened 40 years ago on 30th October 1974 in front of 60,000 people and thousands more over television networks. The Rumble in the Jungle was arguably the greatest boxing match which has ever occurred. Even the rematch between Froch and Groves last May, with 80,000 fans squeezed into Wembley Stadium, paled to insignificance compared with said heavyweight clash.
Furthermore, with a record of 38 KO’s from 40 wins, George Foreman was the favourite going in to the jungle with Ali portraying the underdog. Ali’s tactic was to use the ropes around the ring, known as the rope-a-dope method, to dodge and parry incoming blows from Foreman, exhausting and enraging him until he burnt out in the eighth round. Seeing his opportunity, Ali flattened Foreman with one of the biggest right hooks captured on camera as can be seen above.
The world awoke on Halloween in 1974 under a new king. Cassius Clay had come a long way from the little boy seen below, rebranding himself into the greatest fighter in the world and reclaiming the heavyweight title at the age of 32, known across the planet as Mohammed Ali.