Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ still resonates in Kinshasa

June 5, 2016 12:41 pm
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A mural with the image of boxing legend Muhammad Ali is seen in his native Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born in 1942/AFP
A mural with the image of boxing legend Muhammad Ali is seen in his native Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born in 1942/AFP

, KINSHASA, DR Congo, Jun 5 – At the sound of Muhammad Ali’s name Martino Kavuala, now a 63-year-old estate agent in Kinshasa, seems to light up as he recalls the “Rumble in the Jungle” back in 1974 which “held us spellbound”.

Ali, who died on Friday aged 74, held the whole world spellbound when he took on the massive undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman in the capital of what was then Zaire.

Overview
  • Ali, who died on Friday aged 74, held the whole world spellbound when he took on the massive undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman in the capital of what was then Zaire.
  • Ali knocked the big man down at the end of round eight in one of the sporting upsets of the 20th century.
  • In doing so he inspired a whole nation.
  • "We spent all our youth with Muhammad Ali. He was the one who shaped us," explained former amateur boxer Kavuala.

Ali knocked the big man down at the end of round eight in one of the sporting upsets of the 20th century.

In doing so he inspired a whole nation.

“We spent all our youth with Muhammad Ali. He was the one who shaped us,” explained former amateur boxer Kavuala.

“He had a particular style. When he was in the ring, you see that dancing with his feet, that held us all spellbound.”

Ali’s exploits in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo inspired a generation.

“He was a model for us,” said Kavuala.

Ali was already a hero in Africa – he was treated as royalty when he first set foot on the continent, in Ghana, in 1964,

Ten years later it was the then dictator Mobutu who wanted to bring “the fight of the century” to Zaire.

“We were afraid more than anything. Frankly if Muhammad Ali had been beaten here in the Congo, there would have been total mourning in Zaire and throughout Africa,” said Kavuala.

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