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When We Were Kings

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When We Were Kings Full / HD / Muhammad Ali Documentary / 1996

The Full Documentary about the famous (1974) Boxing Fight: Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman and the events preceding the “Rumble In The Jungle”.

When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film directed by Leon Gast about the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match betweenMuhammad Ali and George Foreman. The fight was held in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974.

The film features a number of celebrities, including James BrownJim BrownB.B. KingNorman MailerGeorge PlimptonSpike Lee and Thomas Hauser.

When We Were Kings was released in 1996 to strong reviews, and won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The film shows the buildup to the fight. Ali is shown talking about his beliefs regarding Africans and African-Americans, speaking of the inherent dignity of the native Africans and his hopes for African-Americans in the future. His relationship with the people of Zaire is shown, with the mutual love between Ali and the people of the nation contrasted with Foreman’s awkward and unsuccessful efforts to build his own popularity. Promoter Don King is shown working on his first big promotion, and singers James Brown and B. B. King performing in Zaire. The film contains footage of the “black Woodstock” soul music festival accompanying the fight, which is more fully documented in the 2008 film Soul Power.  The film also emphasises the questionable ethics of locating the fight in Zaïre, as it was funded by the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.

Norman MailerGeorge PlimptonSpike LeeMalick Bowens and Thomas Hausergave interviews for the film, describing their impressions of Zaire, the fight itself, and particularly their impressions of Ali. The film itself contains these interviews, with many news clips and photos.

The film shows much of the fight itself, particularly Ali’s famous “rope-a-dope” which caused Foreman to expend too much energy and resulted in his eighth-round knockout. It describes in detail Ali’s repeated use of the “right-hand lead” in the early rounds, a rarely-used punch in professional boxing because it opens the boxer up for easy attack, and therefore the punch that Foreman was least prepared for. Ali is shown taking what look like heavy blows from the hard-throwing Foreman, which are lessened by Ali’s quick reflexes and use of the ropes. As Foreman throws with power, Ali is able to use his trademark quick hands to damage the heavyweight champion, and in the eighth round Ali knocks out the exhausted Foreman, regaining the championship taken from him for his refusal to be drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War.

A soundtrack album was released in 1997. It features live festival performances in addition to new music by Zelma Davis, the duet “When We Were Kings” performed by Brian McKnight and Diana King, and “Rumble In The Jungle”, the final recording done by The Fugees, in a collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes.

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