The Rumble in the Jungle

In June 2016, the world lost a true hero and while much astrological focus has centered on Muhammad Ali’s personality (as represented by his natal chart), there appears to be very little research on one of his greatest achievements: reclaiming the heavyweight title from an overwhelming favorite after it had been illegitimately stolen from him by authorities who disagreed with his beliefs.  The “Rumble in the Jungle” represented the apex of Ali’s career.  It was the subject of the historic documentary, “When We Were Kings[1]” and the movie autobiography, “Ali”.  It enshrined Ali’s life and story and when reputation reaches the level of legend it becomes archetypal, making the event a good subject for astrological analysis.

The Fight Chart

rumble in jungle

Sports astrology is a specialized field of study[2], but these indicators from the above chart made it fairly clear that the underdog (Ali) was heavily favored to win.

  • Pluto – The first house represents the favorite so planets close to its cusp (ascendant) have a big impact on their effectiveness. Pluto has a nasty reputation for bringing down the favorite.  Here, it is placed less than 2 degrees away from the cusp.  This alone, is sometimes enough to signify an upset.
  • Lord 1 Combust – Planets that are too close to the Sun are considered combust because their visibility is overshadowed or “burnt up” by the light of the Sun. In sports astrology, this condition applies to planets within about 2 -3 degrees of the Sun and is detrimental, in that it weakens a planet’s effectiveness.  Venus’ combust status is another testimony of the favorite’s weakness as Venus rules the first house.
  • Saturn – The 10th and 4th houses represent the victory/success conditions for the favorite and underdog. Saturn, the ruler of the 4th, is in the 10th  Since Saturn represents the archetype of defense, Ali’s win condition was dependent on a strategy of defense.
  • Path of the Moon – The Moon’s movement is one of the most significant testimonies involved in judging the outcome as it represents the flow of the game. Usually, only 3-5 degrees of movement is allowed so we judge the nature of the aspects the Moon makes as it moves through those parameters.  Here, the Moon aspects Mercury (opposition), Venus’ antiscion[3] (sextile), Uranus (opposition) and finally Mars’ antiscion (sextile).  These aspects reflect how Foreman took the upper hand in the beginning (Mercury, Venus aspects) and the eventual change in momentum to the underdog (Uranus, Mars aspects).  The last aspect of the Moon is the most important and can determine the outcome of the game.  With the last aspect to Mars, the Moon was aspecting the ruler of the 7th house, the underdog.

Cumulatively, these testimonies paint a picture that is overwhelmingly for the underdog.

The Rope-a-Dope

This bi-wheel chart represents a comparison of two charts.  The inner wheel represents the natal chart of Ali, while the outer wheel represents the fight chart.[4]  By comparing and analyzing the nature of the contacts between the two charts, we gain more evidence of Ali’s chances in this fight.

ali-rumble

The most immediately visible characteristic is the blended Grand Cross/Square configuration comprised of planets from charts.  Ali’s natal T-square involving the Moon-Mercury-Pluto-Mars is a strong astrological signature for a boxer.  The activation of this T-square by transiting Venus, Mars and Sun at its “empty leg” focused and energized the expression of his apex Mars.

The empty leg of a T-square represents a section opposite the apex planet that doesn’t contain any planetary bodies.  This section represents an area of discharge for the energies built up at the apex because the empty section can represent a possible solution to the innate friction and imbalance between the planets involved in the T-square.  Considering that two of three transiting planets specifically represented the two fighters in the main fight chart, it is obvious that Ali viewed this fight as a singular reason for his existence as a boxer.

Each corner of the Grand Cross/Square configuration creates so much conflict and pressure that the individual must respond.  The type of response will depend on the modality[5] of the planets involved and a fixed Grand Cross can manifest as extreme defensive posturing, an impenetrable shell to hold off the influence of external forces.

The energy of the fixed Grand Cross tends to be initially focused on resistance, on maintaining things exactly as they are, rather than on taking action and initiating any kind of change; however, once the fixed Grand Cross starts taking action, it is very hard to stop or convince to change its course.  The fixed Grand Cross is like a steamroller; when it’s stopped, it’s hard to get moving, but once it’s moving, it’s very hard to stop.[6]

The other surprisingly supportive dynamic comes from one of the asteroids, Pallas Athene.  As an archetype, Pallas represents strategic thinking.  At the time of the fight transiting Pallas was in conjunction to Ali’s Sun while transiting Saturn[7] was in opposition to Ali’s Pallas.  This double emphasis highlights how Ali’s personality and life force were infused with strategy and how his innate capacity for strategy was confronted with the need for defense.  Most significantly the trine aspect to Ali’s natal Saturn-Uranus conjunction shows how this infusion of strategy would flow easily (trine) with the “natal promise” of merging innovation (Uranus) with defense (Saturn) in a manner that would bring success (10th house placement) and become part of his reputation.

Considering that the Rope-a-dope technique had not yet been invented, it would have been impossible to specifically predict it, but these dynamics provide a clear enough picture of the scenario: In the face of an overwhelming favorite, Ali felt the pressure of his entire life closing in around him.  This wasn’t just a fight.  It was the ultimate test to validate the legitimacy of his beliefs which were, most importantly, his archetypal expression.[8]  In the years leading up to the fight, Ali had made many enemies with controversial stances and brash opinions that eventually forced him to sacrifice his crown.  His initial attempt to regain it resulted in a loss to Joe Frazier and when Frazier was later destroyed by Foreman these enemies viewed the Foreman-Ali fight as the final “nail in the coffin”.  They wanted Ali embarrassed, humbled and broken.  He was aware of this and the weight of the past was so heavy its pressure induced an indomitable resilience forcing him to realize why he must and can withstand Foreman.

“Now when I go in the ring and see what kind of man I got there.  I just got a power now.  I’m not gonna be able to realize it until after…I might ask, ‘How’d I just do that?’  Allah…God.  I’m his tool.  God got in me.  I’ve got a purpose for my people.  Now this man looks slow.  God’s made this man look like a little kid.  His hard, right hand ain’t nothin now.  I don’t even feel it.  I ain’t got no fear of it.  No fear!  I walk right in and take my shots because I got God in my mind.  I’m thinking bout my people bein free and I can help with just one fight.  Now he look little in comparison to what I’m gettin from it.  He ain’t nothin now.  But if I think about me…just me….”George Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier…like he was god…George Foreman knocked out Ken Norton…and the white power press, the power structure ranked me to get tired in 5, 6”.  Then I go in like Norton and get scared.  But, I’m not looking at the world, what they say.  My God controls the universe.”

Ultimately, Foreman wasn’t aware of or couldn’t appreciate the dynamics involved.  He wasn’t fighting just a man.  He was fighting a suppressed archetype, hardened into survival and fighting for the legitimacy of its existence.

Ali knew that he couldn’t match the power of Foreman punch for punch.  Foreman was younger and stronger.  In order to win, Ali had to withstand the punishment and wear him out.  The Rope-a-Dope was his ultimate expression of defiance with corresponding transits that were a perfect, complimentary astrological signature.

 “Ali, Bomaye!”[9]

It was obvious early on that the people of Zaire favored Ali over Foreman.  It may seem a bit arbitrary that a foreign country would favor one boxer over another, but by comparing all relevant charts to Zaire the harmonious and challenging aspects confirm this disposition.

Two different charts for Zaire[10] were used for this stage of the analysis.  The first bi-wheel (Zaire1) represents Zaire’s initial independence,[11] while the alternate chart (Zaire2) is associated with the country’s name change to Zaire.

Fight Chart Comparison

The most powerful piece of synchronicity is the angular[12] alignment of the Ascendant-Descendant axes between the charts of Zaire1 and the Fight chart.  The degree match on this axis across both charts is almost exact.  Specifically, the Ascendant for Zaire1 is conjunct the Descendant for the fight chart.  This means that Zaire’s most visible projection of “self” was aligned with the underdog of this fight.

Ali Comparison

zaire1-aliThe following contacts are listed by order of significance:

  1. Zaire1 Uranus conjunct Ali Ascendant: Zaire was looking for a Promethean champion athlete (5th house) who embodied freedom and independence (Uranus).  Ali provided this image with his Leo Ascendant.
  2. Zaire1 Mars conjunct Ali Mars:  Zaire displayed a tendency towards hero worship (Mars-Neptune opposition) and Ali fulfilled this role with the involvement of his Mars.
  3. Nodal axis alignment: The North Node represents an evolutionary path of the chart subject.  With relationship synastry, it isn’t exceptional to notice this alignment as people tend to form significant relationships with otheres close in age.  But, the difference in “age” between Zaire and Ali makes this a bit unusual and seems to infer that their destinies were intertwined.
  4. Zaire1 Moon trine Ali Sun: Harmonious Sun-Moon contacts are one of the most common aspects seen in successful relationships.  In mundane charts, the Moon is representative of the general public so their ability to flow easily with Ali’s ego is another supportive factor, amplifying the effect of the other contacts.
  5. Zaire1 Moon conjunct Ali Neptune: This may be minor, but needs to be included as it represented how Ali was attuned to the general public of Zaire.  He was able to intuitively read and understand their mood.  High degree of empathy.

zaire2-ali

  1. Zaire2 Sun opposite Ali Mars: Normally, this contact may be challenging as it inspires competition, but that was the exact reason for this relationship.  Most significantly, the Zaire2 Sun was aligned with the Fight chart Venus-Mars that resides in the empty leg of Ali’s T-square.  In other words, Zaire’s core identity and life force was the location of Ali’s greatest challenge.
  2. Zaire2 Mars conjunct Ali Venus: If Sun-Moon contacts are one of the most common, then Mars-Venus contacts are a close second (the conjunction aspect is electric).  From a high level, it is a union of the male and female archetypes.  It may relate to Ali’s artistic charisma providing a source of motivation to Zaire.  Ali was always the first to brag about his “prettiness” and this contact reflects Zaire’s agreement.
  3. Zaire2 Moon-North Node conjunct Ali Moon-Mercury: Moon conjunctions are another classic indicator of harmony because it enhances the comfort level between the two parties.  For Ali, the majority of his controversial political stances and opinions were motivated by his Aquarian Moon-Mercury conjunction.  This feature of his personality aligned with an evolutionary path for Zaire in that they found these characteristics necessary for their development and something they could aspire towards.

These harmonious contacts accurately correlate the archetypal dynamics to actual manifestation and accentuate the high degree of appeal between Ali and the people of country and people of Zaire.  But, while both comparisons highlight many classic indicators of harmony, the following two comparisons to Foreman’s chart show the contrary.

Foreman Comparison

zaire1-foreman

  1. Zaire1 Saturn conjunct Foreman Sun: This contact brings a serious and somber tone and limits the individual’s ability to express their personality.  It wasn’t a secret that Foreman didn’t like Zaire and couldn’t wait to go home.
  2. Zaire1 Pluto conjunct Foreman Saturn Ascendant: Pluto-Saturn contacts are on the “nasty” list and can make a relationship challenging.  Zaire didn’t find Foreman’s austere demeanor inviting and were possibly a little offended by it.
  3. Zaire1 Mars square Foreman Mars: Dysfunctional Mars contacts are notoriously confrontational and violent.  The hostile nature inferred in contact # 2 is echoed here in a more direct fashion.  These two contacts were probably the reason why Zaire didn’t have any dissonance chanting, “Ali, kill him!”

zaire2-foreman

  1. Zaire2 Sun conjunct Foreman South Node: South Node contacts are some of the worst in synastry as they sap the strength of planets that are aligned with them.  This contact echoes and exacerbates the dynamics from Zaire1, contact #1.  Foreman felt that Zaire’s identity is something that he needed to leave behind or that he had grown past.  Foreman did not identify with this country and they knew it.
  2. Zaire2 South Node conjunct Foreman Pluto: This South Node contact hampered Foreman’s ability to train appropriately and transform his body for the fight.  This may have had some resonance with the injury Foreman received while sparring.
  3. Zaire2 Saturn conjunct Foreman Moon: This is the second occurrence of Zaire’s Saturn bearing down on one of Foreman’s most significant planets (i.e. Sun & Moon).  This contact provides the final piece of evidence of Foreman’s distaste for this country.  He found the location to be uncomfortable, poor, dirty and depressing.  He wanted to go home.
  4. Zaire2 Moon conjunct Foreman Mars: With this contact we see both Moons from each party under heavy stress from each of the major malefics (i.e. Saturn, Mars).  Also, this contact echoes and exacerbates the dynamics from Zaire1, contact # 3.

Interestingly, these comparisons reflect similar themes for each fighter.  They show that while Ali drew strength and inspiration from the location of their fight, Foreman was weakened.[13]  Since both men trained in Zaire, we have to assume that Ali’s training was much more productive and prepared him more effectively than Foreman.

Teleology and Fate

As the fight date drew near, an accident occurred that changed everything.  While sparring with a partner, Foreman was cut above his eye.  The injury was severe enough that the fight had to be delayed a month.  This rescheduling ultimately resulted in a chart that was overwhelmingly weighted towards the underdog and it is this “coincidence” that provides the most compelling hypothetical of the analysis.

Philosophically, many astrologers believe in some form of intelligent design because our work allows us to perceive the design behind circumstances casually referred to as coincidences.  Most people would characterize Foreman’s injury as a “freak accident”, but with everything we’ve covered so far is it too outrageous to propose that it was actually part of a larger design to put Ali in the most advantageous position for victory?  And why?  Did Ali represent something that required endorsement or validation at a scope that was much more extensive and unequivocal?

At the end of football games, players sometimes thank a higher power for helping them score a touchdown and it’s difficult not to view these comments as a little ridiculous for why would an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal being/entity intervene in something as insignificant as an athletic competition?  But, that is exactly what may be speculated from the Ali-Foreman boxing match and by refuting the claims of arbitrariness this watershed event prompts an appeal for meaning holistically.

For whatever reason, Ali was “picked” because a victory would immortalize and lionize his presence and energy.  He had the rare opportunity to be selected as an archetypal figure head whose expression serves an evolutionary pre-requisite for the rest of us.  Obviously, the scale and magnitude of this moment made Ali legendary, but it shouldn’t be ignored that throughout our lives each of us experiences a handful of these moments as well.  While they may not make us legendary, they do give us destiny.  Perceiving these destinies can grant a serenity and strength necessary to withstand the toughest blows that life may throw at us.

End Notes

[1] Details of this fight are thoroughly covered in this highly recommended documentary.

[2] For more information, please refer to John Frawley’s book, “Sport Astrology”.

[3] Antiscia is the mirror reflection of a planet across the Cancer-Capricorn axis.  A detailed explanation can be found at http://www.skyscript.co.uk/antiscia.html.  Antiscia are rarely used in natal astrology, but relied upon extensively in sports and horary astrology.

[4] Essentially, the fight chart represents transits to Ali’s natal chart at the time of the fight.

[5] All 12 of the zodiac signs fall into one of three modalities.  Cardinal (Aries, Libra, Cancer) initiate, Fixed (Leo, Aquarius, Scorpio) maintain, and Mutable (Sagittarius, Gemini, Pisces) adapt and communicate.

[6] Kevin Burk, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, Llewellyn Publications, 2001, p.278.

[7] It should be emphasized that this same Saturn represented Ali’s win condition in the fight chart and was also in tight opposition to Foreman’s 5th house natal Sun as well.  The opposition to Foreman limited his ability to compete.

[8] Ali’s political stances and need to sacrifice for a cause larger than himself are archetypally accurate manifestations of his Aquarian Moon-Mercury conjunction.

[9] Leading up to the fight, this phrase became a national chant for Zaire.  It means, “Ali, kill him!”

[10] With mundane charts of groups and entities, it is customary to have multiple charts associated with significant establishment events in the entity’s biography.

[11] Astrologer Nicholas Campion assigned this chart to Zaire in his encyclopedic The Book of World Horoscopes.  Curiously, he did not identify the chart associated with country’s name change to Zaire.  I included it because it has significance with the country’s identity.

[12] Zaire1 has a reliable time so the angles can be included in the analysis, while Zaire2 does not.  As with all untimed charts, Zaire2 is set for noon.

[13] To be fair, Foreman did have a handful of harmonious contacts, but these specific contacts would not be considered strong enough to offset the highlighted dysfunctions.  The dysfunctional contacts could be considered “deal breakers” in many relationships.  If nothing else, they show that Foreman would have to work much harder to achieve the same degree of inspiration and motivation that Ali was feeling.

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