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Can't Take a Punch

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KINSHASA 30 October 1974 -- Muhammad Ali regained the world heavyweight boxing title tonight from the stronger - and younger odds-on favourite - George Foreman. The historic match has been dubbed the 'Rumble in the Jungle'.

Ali trained instensely for the event. Foreman was the stronger of the two; Ali's strategy was to wear Foreman out over a long fight; he succeeded. Ali deliberately let Foreman inside his perimeter, bouncing on the ropes, letting Foreman at him, all in an effort to wear Foreman out. The technique, dubbed 'rope-a-dope' by Ali himself, became the key to Ali's sensational victory - Ali let Foreman throw all the punches he wanted at his body but successfully protected his head. This ultimately had the desired effect of tiring Foreman out. Foreman began showing signs of weariness already by the fifth round.


Most fighters can't use rope-a-dope effectively. The chief element of the strategy is the stamina to 'take a punch'. And with this goal in mind Ali trained for months with sparring partners, improving his ability to withstand the most merciless of attacks and not be destroyed by them.

As the fight wore on Ali did ostensibly little to thwart Foreman's attacks, relying solely on the occasional counterattack to Foreman's head - a move which showed signs of success almost immediately. Ali effectively wrestled Foreman on the ropes, leaning into him and forcing him to support the weight of two men. And Ali kept his banter up with Foreman the whole time, goading him on to throw harder punches. And Foreman reacted as Ali wanted.

Gradually Foreman's stamina ebbed. By the end of the fifth round Foreman was visibly tired and began looking more and more drained. 'They told me you could punch, George!' Ali taunted. 'They told me you could punch as hard as Joe Louis!'

Ali landed the winning combination in the eighth round. He began with a left hook that brought Foreman's head up. Ali then obliterated Foreman with a right punch to the face. Foreman wobbled and then twirled across the ring, losing his balance and landing on his back. He did manage to get back on his feet again but by then it was too late: the referee had already counted him out and Ali was again world champion.

Foreman hit Ali with hundreds of monster punches. Ali blocked some of them but a lot made their way through. Foreman concentrated on Ali's sides and occasionally hit at the head but none of the punches seemed to have much effect.

The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire in 1974 is the most famous heavyweight fight of all time as it ended with Ali - against all odds - defeating a younger and stronger opponent. The documentary of the fight went on to win Academy Awards.

The fight showed unequivocally that Ali was a great strategist but Ali's victory actually depended on something else even more important: Ali could take a punch.

So what does this have to do with computer security? Everything. Read on.

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