1974 Muhammad Ali wins the Rumble in the Jungle On October 30, 1974, 32-year-old Muhammad Ali becomes the heavyweight champion of the world for the second time when he knocks out 25-year-old champ George Foreman in the eighth round of the “Rumble in the Jungle,” a match in Kinshasa, Zaire. Seven years before, Ali had lost his title when the government accused him of draft-dodging and the boxing commission took away his license. His victory in Zaire made him only the second dethroned champ in history to regain his belt. The “Rumble in the Jungle” (named by promoter Don King, who’d initially tagged the bout “From the Slave Ship to the Championship!” until Zaire’s president caught wind of the idea and ordered all the posters burned) was Africa’s first heavyweight championship match. The government of the West African republic staged the event—its president, Mobutu Sese Seko, personally paid each of the fighters $5 million simply for showing up—in hopes that it would draw the world’s attention to the country’s enormous beauty and vast reserves of natural resources. Ali agreed. “I wanted to establish a relationship between American blacks and Africans,” he wrote later. “The fight was about racial problems, Vietnam. All of that.” He added: “The Rumble in the Jungle was a fight that made the whole country more conscious.” At 4:30 a.m. on October 30, 60,000 spectators gathered in the moonlight (organizers had timed the fight to overlap with prime time in the U.S.) at the outdoor Stade du 20 Mai to watch the fight. They were chanting “Ali, bomaye” (“Ali, kill him”). The ex-champ had been taunting Foreman for weeks, and the young boxer was eager to get going. When the bell rang, he began to pound Ali with his signature sledgehammer blows, but the older man simply backed himself up against the ropes and used his arms to block as many hits as he could. He was confident that he could wait Foreman out. (Ali’s trainer later called this strategy the “rope-a-dope,” because he was “a dope” for using it.) By the fifth round, the youngster began to tire. His powerful punches became glances and taps. And in the eighth, like “a bee harassing a bear,” as one Times reporter wrote, Ali peeled himself off the ropes and unleashed a barrage of quick punches that seemed to bewilder the exhausted Foreman. A hard left and chopping right caused the champ’s weary legs to buckle, and he plopped down on the mat. The referee counted him out with just two seconds to go in the round. Ali lost his title and regained it once more before retiring for good in 1981. Foreman, meanwhile, retired in 1977 but kept training, and in 1987 he became the oldest heavyweight champ in the history of boxing. Today, the affable Foreman is a minister and rancher in Texas and the father of five daughters and five sons, all named George. He’s also the spokesman for the incredibly popular line of George Foreman indoor grills. Welles scares nation Orson Welles causes a nationwide panic with his broadcast of “War of the Worlds”—a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth. Orson Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably as the voice of “The Shadow” in the hit mystery program of the same name. “War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause. The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.” Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy “Charlie McCarthy” on NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well underway. Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the storyline, the announcer took listeners to “the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.” Putrid dance music played for some time, and then the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that “Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory” had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.” The Martians mounted walking war machines and fired “heat-ray” weapons at the puny humans gathered around the crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas into the air. Soon “Martian cylinders” landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee. In fact, that was not far from the truth. Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!” When news of the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumors that the show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed. The Federal Communications Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles feared that the controversy generated by “War of the Worlds” would ruin his career. In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane—a movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.