Johnny Wakelin (b. 1939) is an English pop/R&B singer and songwriter who became famous during the mid 1970s. He is best known for the catchy reggae-styled "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)" (1975), a mostly-spoken and humorous tribute to the heavyweight boxing champion that recounts the story of his victory over George Foreman in a historic match known as "The Rumble In The Jungle" that took place on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire.
Born in Brighton, East Sussex, England, Wakelin began performing locally and was discovered by Pye record producer Robin Blanchflower. By late 1972, Wakelin had released "Hungarian Superman (Joe Bugner)" in tribute to the Hungarian-born British-Australian boxer, which never charted. In the wake of Muhammad Ali's comeback, Wakelin reworked this song, retitled "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)," which debuted on the U.K. charts in early 1975, reaching #7. This song soon after made its way to the U.S., peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was Wakelin's only U.S. hit. Other songs for which he became well known include "In Zaire" (1976), another saga commemorating the 1974 boxing match that became a U.K. Top 5 hit.
Since his commercial peak in the mid 1970s, Johnny Wakelin has continued to perform and record to the present day and has released a dozen albums and several singles to date.
- Johnny Wakelin, a longtime boxing fan, remembers Muhammad Ali and his tribute to the late champion in an interview with 6pr.com.au (June 6, 2016).
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Johnny Wakelin And The Kinshasa Band
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