The rope-a-dope is a boxing fighting style commonly associated with Muhammad Ali in his 1974 Rumble in the Jungle match against George Foreman…..which is discuss in this video by two men that were in the coners of both fighters on that historic night in Zaire, Africa…..with Dr. Pacheco being in Ali’s corner….and Archie Moore being in Foreman’s corner some 16 years before this interview seen in this video herewith took place. In many competitive situations, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one contender lets their opponent become fatigued by drawing non-injuring offensive actions. This then gives the contender an advantage towards the end of the competition or before….as the opponent becomes tired….allowing the contender to execute devastating offensive maneuvers and thereby win. The rope-a-dope is performed by a boxer assuming a protected stance….as in Ali’s classic pose while lying against the ropes….which allows much of the punch’s energy to be absorbed by the ropes’ elasticity rather than the boxer’s body. The boxer keeps using the rope a dope keeps their guard up and is prepared for the incoming blows while looking for opportunities to counter punch the opponent….who by mounting an offensive may have left themselves open to counters. By being in a defensive posture and being prepared for the incoming blows, the boxer decreases his or her chances of being caught with a clean flush blow….as ideally a significant portion of the punches will land on the boxer’s hands and arms….or will miss completely as a result of the boxer slipping the punch. Additionally, if the opponent lacks stamina,their power will decrease throughout the fight as they lose energy….thus wasting many punches into the boxer’s guard.
The maneuver is most commonly associated with the match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, known as The Rumble in the Jungle….when Foreman was considered by many observers to be the favorite to win the fight due to his superior punching power. During the match, Ali purposely angered Foreman, provoking Foreman to attack and force him back on the ropes. At the time, some observers thought that Ali was being horribly beaten and worried that they might see him get killed in the ring….when writer George Plimpton described Ali’s stance as like “a man leaning out his window trying to see something on his roof.” However, far from being brutalized, Ali was relatively protected from Foreman’s blows. Norman Mailer described the advantage of Ali’s rope-a-dope this way….“Standing on one’s feet, it is painful to absorb a heavy body punch even when blocked with one’s arm. The torso, the legs and the spine take the shock. Leaning on the ropes, however, Ali can pass it along; the rope will receive the strain.” Ali’s preparation for the fight, which involved toughening himself up by allowing his sparring partners to pummel him….which contributed to observers’ sense that Ali was outmatched…..but when Foreman became tired from the beating he was delivering, Ali took advantage and won the match.