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YouTube Gold: The Rumble In The Jungle

When they were Kings

Muhammad Ali Punching George Foreman
Muhammad Ali punching George Foreman during the famous Rumble in the Jungle in 1974

A lot of people see George Foreman today and if they don’t think about barbecue grills, they think about him making a comeback as a chubby, somewhat cuddly older boxer who, against all odds, won the heavyweight championship again at the age of 45.

In his earlier days though, Foreman was a fearsome puncher. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but there are three punchers in the last sixty years who truly scared people: Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson and Foreman.

Joe Frazier was not far behind and he was the world champion when Foreman got his shot.

The fight lasted two rounds.

So by the time the famous Rumble in the Jungle with former champ Muhammad Ali came along, Foreman had established himself as a great fighter and Ali was seen as older and somewhat washed up.

It wasn’t the first time that people underestimated Ali and it wouldn't be the last.

Ali started the fight by going after Foreman and then went to what later became known as rope-a-dope: he let Foreman punch himself out and let the ropes absorb the energy.

And when he sensed that Foreman was worn out, Ali taunted him, saying “that all you got, George?”

Foreman later said he thought, “yeah, that’s about it.”

Ali came off the ropes in the eighth round and finished him. It was one of the most brilliant strategic efforts in boxing history. People focus on Ali’s talent and tactical brilliance, but no one should ever overlook his immense courage. There was a reason he was - and is - called The Greatest.