Muhammad Ali’s Foreign Policy Lessons

This commentary was originally published in Defense One on November 18, 2022.

Muhammad Ali, probably the greatest boxer of all time, adopted a signature strategy in his 1974 fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. During the so-called Rumble in the Jungle , Ali allowed himself to be pushed against the ropes, absorbing blow after blow, round after round. Most observers thought the hard-punching Foreman was winning the match. But Foreman began to tire by the fifth round, and he was exhausted by the eighth. Then, Ali unleashed a punishing barrage of punches to Foreman’s head that sent Foreman reeling. He stumbled to the mat, and the bout was over.

Ali didn’t share his strategy with his corner, and early in the fight, his trainers and cornermen were beginning to despair. Foreman had Ali on the ropes, just where he wanted him, and Ali was taking a pounding. It looked like Ali, who had surrendered the heavyweight title over his refusal to be drafted in the Vietnam War, would never get his championship back.

Read the full article on Defense One

Jon B. Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program