This Year in Music History: The Rumble in The Jungle

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Rumble in the Jungle: the historic boxing match between heavyweights George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Held in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Foreman-Ali bout is considered one of the greatest sporting events in history. With an estimated one billion television viewers around the world, it was also one of the most watched televised events of all time. And the event left few disappointed, ending in an upset in which Ali knocked out Foreman, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, in the 8th round.

But what does this have to do with music? The championship match was arranged by boxing promoter Don King and Jerry Masucci, the co-founder of the legendary Salsa music record label, Fania Records. Masucci’s involvement helped The Rumble in the Jungle become more than a fight: it became a cultural event highlighting the shared cultural connections and experiences between Black Americans and Africans. Coinciding with the Foreman-Ali match-up was the 3-day live music festival, Zaire 74. The festival featured musicians of African descent, including James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, and of course, the Fania All-Stars, the group which, thanks to the efforts of Masucci, made Salsa music a worldwide phenomenon.

Students can discover more about this historic event and the historic connections between Caribbean and African music by exploring the TeachRock lesson: Mi Gente: Fania Records & New York Salsa Music.