Here is how it happened
The then (1974) world Heavyweight champion George Foreman (Big George) was challenged by former world champion Muhammad Ali (The Greatest, The Champ) and the fight was scheduled to be held on October 30th, 1974, at the Mai 20 Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). It was called The Rumble in the Jungle by promoter Don King.
Ali was 32 while George was 25, both the guys standing at 6 ft 3 in.
Rumble in the Jungle - MUHAMMAD ALI VS GEORGE FOREMAN
The fight began with Ali going for an all-round attack, to rattle Foreman with right-hand leads. Very quickly, in the first round, Foreman regained and hit Ali, landing his famous hammer punches. Ali realized that with his immense power, Foreman would get him easily, so he decided to go for Plan B (The Dope).
It is interesting to note that during the pre-fight press conference Ali had announced that he had a ‘secret plan’ for Foreman.
Rumble in the Jungle - Muhammad Ali On the offensive
The second round started and to everybody’s surprise, Ali seemed like he was glued to the ropes, covering himself up in pure defence and allowing Foreman to land his mighty punches on his arms and body.
As a result, Foreman used up his energy by throwing punches without earning points. The punches did not hit Ali as they were deflected away making it difficult for Foreman to hit Ali's head. All the empty punching drained Foreman's strength due to the large number of useless punches he threw.
In the meantime, Ali took every opportunity to land straight punches to Foreman's face as it became swollen.
Rumble in the Jungle- Ali knocks out Foreman
After several rounds, Foreman began to wear out and his face was visibly damaged by the brutal, quick jabs and crosses landed by Ali.
This multi-pronged attack by Ali completely unsettled an already exhausted Foreman who was severely staggering, that too in the fourth round. After the fifth round Foreman looked completely tired and confused.
Oh yeah, the dope part! The exhausted and disoriented Foreman, devoid of all his energy was Ali's dope. During the seven rounds, Ali had leaned against the ropes to absorb Foreman’s punches.
Rumble in the Jungle
In the eighth round, Foreman's hitting power and defence became useless as the labour of throwing so much powerful, but empty punches took its toll. This is what Ali had waited for seven rounds. Just as Foreman tried to hold down Ali on the ropes, Ali sprung and landed his trademark right hooks and 5-punch combination over Foreman. The climax saw Ali’s left hook to lift Foreman's head up followed by a hard right straight to the face.
Crash, Boom, Bang! That was the end of Foreman’s contest as he fell down on the floor. It was a knock-out win for Ali as he regained his World heavyweight title.
As for the seven round punch absorbing strategy, Ali called it rope-a-dope.
After the fight Foreman and Ali became friends. Ali was at the 1996 Oscars as part of the group that was to accept the Oscar for When We Were Kings, a documentary made as a tribute to the famous Foreman-Ali fight in Zaire. Due to the Parkinson's Ali had difficulty walking to the stage. That is when his one-time rival and full-time friend George Foreman helped him up the steps to receive the Oscar.
In the words of George Foreman, "We fought in 1974, that was a long time ago. After 1981 we became the best of friends. By 1984, we loved each other. I am not closer to anyone else in this life than I am to Muhammad Ali."
They don’t make true champions like these anymore it seems!