1974 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Onsite Fight Poster
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,963
Rare onsite poster from the heavyweight title bout between champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, famously known as "The Rumble in the Jungle," held on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire. This is one of two different posters produced for the fight. Onsite posters for fights, even those which occur in the United States, tend to be scarce in general, because of their very limited print runs and very local intended use. When a fight is in a distant foreign country such as Zaire, as was the case with "The Rumble in the Jungle," the survival of onsite posters is extremely rare. The offered piece is probably one of fewer than ten surviving onsite examples of this significant boxing poster, and its survival, as well as its extraordinary condition is directly related to its provenance. This poster, along with the other four Ali/Forman onsite fight posters and related stickers in this auction, all originate from the same consignor, a gentleman who was born and raised in Zaire (formerly the Belgium Congo; his family came from Belgium). At the time of the fight our consignor was a chef at the Hotel Inter-Continental Kinshasa, where Foreman resided while training and where Ali was a frequent visitor. Because he was a boxing fan and one of the youngest chefs at the hotel, a member of President Mobutu's public relations staff gave him the posters and stickers as a gift. (As he recalls, since President Mobutu was part owner of the hotel, both he and his public relations team spent a great deal of time at the hotel during the time leading up to the fight. It was at that time that he became friendly with members of Mobutu's staff, who then gave him the posters and stickers as mementoes of the event.) As such, none of the posters has ever been displayed publicly and have remained in his possession since that time.
Measuring an impressive 46 x 75 inches (making its survival all the more unlikely), the poster features striking head shots of Ali, Foreman, and Mobutu Sese Seko (President of Zaire) set against the shape of Zaire. An interesting aspect of this poster is the date change displayed along the center of the piece. This fight was originally scheduled for September of that year; however, an injury to Foreman resulted in a one-month postponement. That change is reflected in the fact that the original date has been covered by a piece of green tape (matching the color of the background), with the new date "30 Octobre 1974" painted in black upon it. Obviously, that was a much more economical alternative for the promoters than issuing new posters. Because Kinshasa was a Belgian colony until 1960, the poster is printed in French, with the headline reading "Zaire 74/Ali et Foreman Font Confiance A Mobutu" (Translation: Ali and Foreman trust Mobutu). Printed along the base of the poster is "Vous Aussi Faites Comme Eux, Ayez/Confiance En Mobutu" (Translation: So do like them, have confidence in Mobutu).
This is probably the finest known example of this poster, with its condition rivaled only by the other three examples offered in this auction (this one is by a small margin the finest of the four). The poster displays both vertical and horizontal folds (as issued) and aside from some extremely minor handling wear along the edges, a few minor surface wrinkles, and a tiny tear at an intersecting fold line, it remains in Near Mint condition, showing little-to-no evidence of having ever been displayed. Given its age and extremely fragile nature, it would be hard to imagine that a finer example of this poster exists. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,963