In 1974, George Foreman lost the “Rumble in the Jungle” to Muhammad Ali. But this wasn’t the end of the fight. Eighteen years later, he returned to the ring to fight five guys in a single night.
In 1976, George Foreman defeated Muhammad Ali in one of the most famous boxing matches in history. This was a rematch between the two men that took place at the Rumble in the Jungle. The two fighters were stripped of their titles, and the Rumble in the Jungle was billed as the “Fight of the Century.”
On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali was in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) working as an international goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. Ali was scheduled to fight Henry Cooper — a British heavyweight boxing champion — in a non-title fight. Then, Ali went to the jungle to do some good instead of saving the world.
Muhammad Ali and George Foreman fought in one of the most renowned boxing matches of all time in October 1974, dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman, the younger and stronger of the two, entered the ring in Zaire as the world heavyweight champion, but he did not exit the same manner as Ali, who stunned the world by winning the championship for the second time.
The defeat was Foreman’s first in his professional career, and he didn’t take it well. Foreman was initially angry in defeat and attributed his loss to Ali on fatigue, even though he subsequently acknowledged to losing to a superior boxer. So, in order to demonstrate his endurance, strength, and agility on a continent other than Africa, Foreman staged a performance in Toronto only six months later, in which he fought five guys in one night.
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Despite what occurred in Zaire, Foreman seemed to want to show Ali that he was still the better boxer. And Ali was right there at ringside to see the event, or at least a portion of it. However, although this performance was spectacular in one sense, it didn’t have the desired impact on Foreman, and Ali, like he did back in the day, made sure to inform him of this.
In the ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ Muhammad Ali stunned the world by knocking out George Foreman.
During the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire in October 1974, Muhammad Ali lands a right hand on George Foreman | Ken Regan / Walt Disney Television via Getty Images
When Foreman, 25, entered the “Rumble in the Jungle” in October 1974, he had a 40-0 record with 37 knockouts and seemed invincible. After winning the heavyweight championship by knocking out Joe Frazier six times in two rounds in January 1973, Foreman knocked out Jose Roman in his first title defense in September 1973, and then demolished Ken Norton in two rounds in March 1974.
When Ali, 32, went to Zaire to begin preparing for Foreman, he had split two bouts with Norton in 1973 and was coming off a unanimous decision win over Joe Frazier in January 1974. Most analysts thought he was outclassed by the younger, stronger champion. Despite this, Ali was determined to reclaim the championship, which he had never lost in the ring and had been taken from him when he was suspended for rejecting enlistment into the United States Army.
And Ali made good on his vow to reclaim the championship by using what became known as the “rope-a-dope.” He lured Foreman in by fighting toe-to-toe with the champion early on, then sat back and watched Foreman wear himself out as the bout continued, resting on the ropes as Foreman unleashed punch after punch. Ali unleashed a barrage of blows that shocked Foreman when he could no longer protect himself. As the eighth round drew to a conclusion, Ali delivered a five-punch combination that included a left hook and a straight right that knocked Foreman out of the fight.
Six months later, Foreman battled five guys in one night, as Ali mocked him from the stands.
Following the defeat, Foreman repeatedly asked for a rematch with Ali. Ali, on the other hand, appeared uninterested in fighting Foreman again, opting instead to face 36-year-old Chuck Wepner, who took Ali to the 15th round and was the basis for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series.
Foreman held his five-bout show at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto a month after the Ali-Wepner battle. Most people who weren’t named George Foreman thought it was a wonderful idea, and his regular trainers didn’t bother showing up. Each battle was three rounds long and pitted Foreman against a considerably lighter opponent, which is why he was almost certain to knock out all five.
Foreman opened the event by knocking out Alonzo Johnson in the second round, a guy who had previously lost to Ali while he was still known as Cassius Clay in 1961. Next up was Jerry Judge, who was also knocked out in the second round by Foreman. But it wasn’t their only battle; the two also brawled on the canvas later, creating a show in and of itself. Meanwhile, Ali sat ringside, providing some commentary for Howard Cosell and basically ridiculing Foreman the whole time.
After that, Foreman knocked out Terry Daniels, the most well-known of the five fighters since he was the first to challenge Joe Frazier after Frazier beat Ali in the “Fight of the Century” in 1971. After their “formal” fight was finished, Foreman and Daniels got into it as well, as did the corners. Foreman even pushed one of his own men across the ring at one point.
Charlie Polite, a journeyman with a career record of 17-39-3, was the fourth opponent. He’d lost 30 of his 46 professional bouts at the time, yet he still dared to kiss Foreman on the chin as the referee was delivering instructions. To make things worse, he actually made it through all three rounds to eliminate Foreman’s knockout threat. Boone Kirkman, who Foreman knocked out in the second round in 1970, was the fifth and last combatant to make it through all three rounds.
Foreman lifted his arms in victory at the conclusion of the last bout, but there was no winner on this night. Sure, Foreman demonstrated his endurance by being in the ring for almost an hour (albeit he wasn’t fighting the whole time), but this was an overall disgrace to the sport of boxing. And the Toronto audience didn’t hold back in expressing their disgust.
He was never rematched, although he did reclaim the heavyweight championship in 1994.
After the five-fight farce in Toronto, Foreman continued to call out Muhammad Ali but was never able to get a rematch before retiring in 1977 after an upset defeat to Jimmy Young.
In November 1994, at the age of 45, he stunned the world by knocking out unbeaten 26-year-old Michael Moorer to capture the WBA and IBF heavyweight championships, making him the world’s oldest heavyweight champion.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Did Foreman and Ali fight twice?
Yes, they did fight twice.
What did Muhammad Ali say to George Foreman during the fight?
Im going to whup your ass!
Which two fighters met in the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974?
Muhammad Ali and George Foreman
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