The Rumble in the Jungle: An Announcer's Tale

Zaire, 1974 ::: Foreman v. Ali

All week long, before the big fight, they were having great difficulty getting the sound uplink for the close-circut audiences up and running (it was 1974 and it was Africa), but on the day of the fight a Swedish technician approached the would-be announcer and told him that they had it working and everything was ready to go.

The night of the fight, as the announcer made his call, always concerned they may lose the uplink kept looking across the ring at the Swedish technician, (who was sitting with his equipment on the other side) for conformation that the system was still working. Each time the announcer checked, the Swedish technician would nod in the affirmative and give him a thumps-up, confirming that all was copasetic, so the announcer continued calling the fight.

After the fight the Swedish technician approached the announcer and once again reassured him that all had gone as planned, confirming that he had heard every word "loud and clear."

The next morning when the dust had settled the announcer came to realize that the only person who had actually heard his call "loud and clear" was the Swedish technician sitting across the ring from him, not a single round of his call had gone out to the close-circut European audiences; the announcer had spent eight rounds enthusiastically calling a fight for an audience of exactly one, a Swedish technician sitting on the other side of the ring, who did in fact hear every word "loud and clear."

Back in the States, at the venues where the sound had failed mid-way through the fight, riots broke out, leaving many a theater ransacked.