Rare 1974 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Onsite Fight Poster - One of Only Several Known Examples!

Sold For: $7,200

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 2079

Item Year: 1974

Category: Football/Basketball/Hockey/Boxing/Other Sports

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Exceedingly rare onsite poster from the heavyweight title bout between champion George Frazier and Muhammad Ali, famously known as "The Rumble in the Jungle," held on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. This is one of two different posters produced for the fight. Both are rare, but this version is easily the scarcer of the two. This is what we believe to be one of only several known examples of this significant fight poster and its survival is directly related to its extraordinary provenance: it originates from a gentleman who was living in Zaire at the time of the fight. Onsite posters for fights, even those which occur in the United States, tend to be scarce in general, because of their very limited print runs and very local intended use. When a fight is in a distant foreign country such as Zaire, as was the case with "The Rumble in the Jungle," the survival of onsite posters is extremely rare.

In addition to its rarity, the poster is also distinguished by its size. Measuring an impressive 46 x 75 inches (making its survival all the more unlikely), the poster features striking photos of each fighter set against the shape of Zaire. An interesting aspect of this poster is the date change displayed along the top. This fight was originally scheduled for September of that year; however, an injury to Foreman resulted in a one-month postponement. That change is reflected in the fact the original date has been covered by a piece of yellow tape (matching the color of the background), with the new date "30 Octobre" painted in black upon it. Obviously, that was a much more economical alternative to the promoters than issuing new posters. Because Kinshasa was a Belgian colony until 1960, the poster is printed in French, with the headline reading "Championnat Du Monde Des Poids Lourds" (World Heavyweight Championship). Printed along the base of the poster is "Ce Match Du Siecle Est Un Cadeau Du Citoyen President Mobuto Sese Seko Au Peuple Zairois" (Translation: This fight of the century is a gift of the citizen President Mobuto Sese Seko to the Zairean people). The famed "Rumble in the Jungle" was one of the defining moments of Ali's illustrious career. Matched against Foreman, who was coming off a dominating victory over Joe Frazier (one of Foreman's blows actually lifted Frazier off the canvas), Ali was given little chance by many pundits of regaining the heavyweight title. Undaunted by critics and buoyed by the support of the local fans, who constantly chanted "Ali Bomaye!" ("Ali kill him"), Ali shocked the world by registering an eighth-round knockdown of Foreman. His victory came in large part from his use of the famous "rope-a-dope," a strategy of letting Foreman tire himself out by pounding on him while he remained covered up on the ropes.

The poster, printed on paper stock, features both vertical and horizontal folds (as issued) and is in extraordinary condition given its age and fragile nature. A few small tears are evident along the intersections of the fold lines and there is minor border wear. The applied tape bearing the date change of the bout displays moderate abrasions. Aside from those minor flaws, the poster is in Near Mint condition and is undoubtedly one of the finest examples we have ever seen. On our website we have provided a photograph from 1974 showing how these posters were displayed onsite in Africa. This is a museum-quality piece and one of the few surviving onsite mementos from one of the most famous heavyweight title bouts in history. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open).

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