The Rumble in the Jungle Reaches Bonhams Chester Sale

Two very rare posters and a programme from what is the perhaps the most famous boxing match of all time will be offered for sale on the 27 February 2008 at Bonhams’ Sporting Memorabilia sale in Chester.

The posters, with estimates of £5,000 – 6,000 each, were produced to advertise the much-hyped match between heavyweight champion George Foreman and former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali, which took place on October 30 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).

Very few copies of these posters, or the programme (estimate £1,500 – 2,000), are known to exist – Zaire had never witnessed an event like it and promotional material was not thought to be worth collecting.

In 1967 Ali had been stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to join the US army, and the fight against Foreman in Zaire was his big chance to prove once more his moral and physical right to be boxing champion of the world.

The event was dubbed ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ by Don King. This was King’s first venture as a boxing promoter, and having promised both fighters $5-million each, he had to look for a sponsor for the match. Zaire’s flamboyant president Mobuto Sese Seko agreed to host it.

Foreman and Ali spent much of the summer of 1974 training in Zaire, and the fight was originally set for September, but Foreman was cut during training, pushing the fight back to October. The posters in Bonhams’ sale have the new date – 30 October 1974 – posted over the old one.

In the lead up to the fight, general consensus was that Ali was no match for Foreman, and rumour has it that some of Foreman’s handlers were worried that he would kill Ali. The story of the fight is well documented – Ali showed an extraordiary tactical awareness and after wearing Foreman down over seven rounds, he knocked his formidable opponent down in the eighth, thus becoming only the second heavyweight boxer to regain the title.

These rare items from a momentous sporting event were collected by someone who managed a business in Zaire and attended the fight. He was given the posters to display in his business and they have stayed in his family ever since.