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Ali and Foreman's "Rumble" immortalized in documentary

Muhammad Ali's 1974 comeback win against George Foreman in Zaire was one of the greatest fights of all time

Muhammad Ali knocks down George Foreman

Challenger Muhammad Ali is directed to a neutral corner by referee Zack Clayton moments after Ali caught an off-balance George Foreman flush on the button, knocking him to the mat and ending their title fight in the eighth round, in Kinshasa, Africa, Oct. 30, 1974.

AP Photo

The "Rumble in the Jungle" was the subject of director Leon Gast's 1996 documentary, "When We Were Kings," and was the subject of a report by the late CBS News correspondent Harold Dow.


MUHAMMAD ALI: We're going to get it on because we don't get along!"

"When We Were Kings" is a trip back in time to the famed Ali- Foreman championship fight ... an event that would dramatically change both fighters' lives.

ALI: We're gonna rumble in the jungle!"

ALI: And you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned? Wait until I kick Foreman's behind.

No one gave Ali much hope of winning.

LEON GAST: Didn't think he had a chance.

He was 32 years old. He had slowed down considerably. More importantly, he was facing George Foreman ... a young, mean fighting machine.

ALI: This chump has got everybody scared.

GAST: He was -- I guess the one word that would describe him best is he was sullen.

GEORGE FOREMAN: Beg your pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You will continue boxing even if you would lose over there?

FOREMAN: I beg your pardon?

GAST: I mean, people were frightened of George.

Announcer #1: Look at the stare on George Foreman. Look at Ali...

FOREMAN: That's the face of a killer.

Even Foreman himself would agree.

FOREMAN: I wasn't putting on an act. I was a bad man. And I wanted to hit those guys and hurt them, and not only win but I wanted to hurt them.

So how did George go from killer to the kind, lovable guy we all know today? It all began with the fight in Zaire.

FOREMAN: I was going to kill this guy.

HAROLD DOW: You hated him in the ring? You wanted to kill him. You wanted to beat him so bad.

FOREMAN: I hated him. I wanted to kill him.

But Ali figured out a way to turn Foreman's rage to his advantage with the now-famous rope-a-dope.

DOW: You were pounding away and pounding away.

Mr. FOREMAN: Well, I was the dope. He just laid on the rope.

DOW: He laid on the rope so...

FOREMAN: I'm the dope because I just wasted my energy.

Announcer #1: Ali, a sneaky right hand...

FOREMAN: He was cagey. He was smart.

Announcer: Foreman takes a right!

Announcer #1: Three! Four! Five! Six!

Announcer #1: Foreman gets up to his knees. Eight! That's it!

FOREMAN: Oh, after I lost that fight, I was frustrated for a long time. This man devastated my life.

Fact is, after the loss to Ali, Foreman's life fell apart. He quit boxing and turned to preaching.

FOREMAN: If I'd go on the street corners -- and people would walk past me and they'd really start to offend me. They didn't know who I was. And one day, I said, "Yes. This is George Foreman. I fought Muhammad Ali. Sure, I lost to him, but" -- and they stopped.

And they started to listen to his sermons.

FOREMAN: The Lord is not a name.

FOREMAN: He's like been my gift to the ministry. Just the association of his name with mine pretty much made me outside of the ring.

Outside the ring, Foreman is now a celebrity.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, George Foreman.

And, of course, he's gone back inside the ring.

Unidentified Announcer #2: And Rodriguez goes down.

And how does Foreman feel about Ali today, the man he once wanted to kill?

FOREMAN: And I'll show you something that is more precious to me than anything.

Right here. He signed this picture "To George Foreman. Love, Muhammad Ali."

DOW: Now isn't that something?

FOREMAN: This guy has integrity. He stood for something. This is a man.

Leon Gast hopes his film will spread the Ali legacy ... to a whole new generation.

ALI: I'm going to fight so I can let my little brothers, who are sleeping on concrete floors, stay in America. All I got to do is whip George Foreman.

FOREMAN: This man was more than your ordinary boxer. He was the greatest.

ALI: I have a lot of things to do when I start fighting in the black neighborhoods. We have a lot of problems.

GAST: I mean, this guy really made a difference. ...A real hero.