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Anthony Joshua may replicate Mohammed Ali- Foreman’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ epic 50 years after

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Muhammad Ali watches as the defending world champion George Foreman goes down in the eighth round of their fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, on 30 October, 1974. Photograph: AP

Anthony Joshua could revisit the Rumble in the Jungle as part of an “iconic” bout around the 50th anniversary of the legendary fight, says Eddie Hearn.

Promoter Hearn says talks have taken place over the heavyweight contender fighting in Africa, and that government backing for an event is available.

Joshua, 34, has Nigerian ancestry but has never fought on the continent.

“It’s something that would be iconic for the sport,” Hearn told BBC World Service’s Newsday of the proposals.

“When we’re visiting these countries, there’s government funding to stage these events.

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“Sometimes that isn’t forthcoming in all areas but there have been discussions and I think it will happen in time.”

Muhammad Ali and George Foreman contested the heavyweight world championship in Zaire – now Democratic Republic of Congo – in October 1974 in one of the greatest fights of all time.

Both men were champions during the long careers that made them legends, with Ali knocking out Foreman in the eighth round to win the WBA, WBC and Ring titles.

Joshua held the WBA belt for a combined total of almost four years and has been IBF, WBO and IBO champion, although he is currently aiming to win back the titles he failed to regain from Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia in August 2022.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist, who grew up in London after his parents emigrated from Nigeria before he was born, remains one of the biggest ticket-sellers in the sport and has called himself “proudly Nigerian and proudly British”, sporting a tattoo of Africa with Nigeria outlined on his right shoulder.

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“With that anniversary approaching, we’ve often talked about a big Anthony Joshua fight – even revisiting the famous scenes in Zaire of the Rumble in the Jungle,” said Hearn.

“We’ve had a couple of approaches. Obviously, Anthony Joshua – with his Nigerian descent – is always keen to visit and stage a major event there.

“Visually, it would be incredible and something Anthony would love to tick off the box before the end of his career.”

Despite its lasting resonance, the Rumble in the Jungle remains the last time a fight of such scale took place in Africa.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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