UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou questions the historical impact the original ‘Rumble in the Jungle‘ between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974 had on the continent of Africa.
Still to this day, any boxing fan would agree that Muhammad Ali taking on George Foreman inside the Stade Tata Raphaël stadium in Congo was the biggest event that the sport has ever produced. The impact of the fight was massive as the fans could not believe that a fight can achieve such magnificent heights.
With 60,000 people in attendance, the event reportedly generated revenue of around $100 million at the time. Although that was a massive amount of money, it did not get used properly according to the UFC champ Francis Ngannou.
Francis Ngannou says ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ did not do Africa any favours
In a recent appearance on the ‘True Geordie‘ podcast, Francis Ngannou spoke on the lack of development amongst the African talents. Although he acknowledged the enormity of Muhammad Ali’s fight in Africa, Ngannou stated that the event ultimately did nothing to nurture a cultural change.
During the interview, Francis Ngannou questioned why combat sports do not have more African champions? Although he does want the UFC to hold a card in the region, Francis wonders whether it will inspire the people to follow in his footsteps or not. ‘The Predator’ said,
“That’s (Rumble in the Jungle) part of the problem as well. Because yes, for long time I have been like, ‘okay, how can we have a UFC in Africa? How we want UFC in Africa.’ And I still want UFC in Africa. But when I kind of think about it, long time ago, one of the biggest event in the combat sports was ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ it was in Africa. “
“It was great, it was big, it was massive. But how did that benefit people there? What was the outcome? Many decades after, what is the benefit of that in the community? And I can’t see any of that. So in my perspective, I think that was a wrong idea. We imported something big rather than starting our own thing even if it’s small.”
“The time they have ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ in Africa, let’s just say at that time, with that money, they (could have) built multiple facilities, in that country. That was a huge amount of money for the country. They could have built one or two arenas, built like five or ten gyms in the country and then kind of like promote the sport for the youth. By today, that country will be having at least three world champions,”
The 35-year old recently joined WBC and The Ring Magazine world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in the ring after his win against Dillian Whyte. During that, they announced that the two champions from two ends of the combat sports world are heading for a showdown. They are calling it the ‘Rumble in the Jungle 2.‘
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With his strong feelings about developing the younger talents in Africa, fans can expect Francis Ngannou to use the platform of this fight to improve the infrastructure around the continent so that the next generation can come through the ranks without having to worry about training facilities.
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