Muhammad Ali

From Quotes
Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
Henry Miller
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I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I don't have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest.

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) is an American boxer, who was Heavyweight of the World three times between 1964 and 1979.


The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
Allah is the Greatest. I'm just the greatest boxer.
  • Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right,
    Look at young Cassius carry the fight.

    Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room,
    It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
    Liston is still rising, now Clay lands with a right,
    What a beautiful swing, and the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring.
    Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
    For he can't start counting till Sonny goes down.
    Now Liston is disappearing from view,
    The crowd is going frantic,
    But radar stations have picked him up,
    Somewhere over the Atlantic.
    Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
    That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite.
    Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
    That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.
  • While I'm talking to you I'm thinking up the greatest short poem of all time. This poem tells how it feels to be great as I am: Me — wheee!
    • In response to the question "Who writes your stuff?" in 1963, as quoted in "Brash Clay waxed poetic in 1963 visit to Nashville" by Bill Traughber in The CIty Paper [Nashville] (4 June 2002)
  • This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
    The most beautiful fighter in the world today.

    He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
    Of a muscular punch that's incredibly speed-y.
    The fistic world was dull and weary, but with a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary.
    Then someone with color and someone with dash, brought fight fans are runnin' with Cash.
    This brash young boxer is something to see and the heavyweight championship is his destiny.
    This kid's got a left, this kid's got a right, if he hit you once, you're asleep for the night.
    • I Am The Greatest (1964)
  • I knew I had him in the first round. Almighty God was with me. I want everyone to bear witness, I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I don't have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest. I showed the world. I talk to God everyday. I shook up the world, I'm the king of the world. You must listen to me. I am the greatest! I can't be beat!
    • After defeating Sonny Liston for the first time (25 February 1964) as quoted in Sound and Fury : Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship (2007) by Dave Kindred, p. 58
    • Variant transcription: I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I'm so great I don't have a mark on my face. I shook up the world.
  • I think Terrell will catch hell at the sound of the bell.
    He's going around saying that he's a championship-fighter,
    but when he meets me he fall 20 pound lighter.
    He thinks that he's the reall heavy weight champ
    but when he meets me, he'll just be a tramp
    Now I'm not sayin' just to be funny, but I'm fightin' Ernie because he needs the money.
  • Ain't no reason for me to kill nobody in the ring, unless they deserve it.
    • Comment after the match with Jimmy Ellis was stopped by the referee in the twelfth round (July 1971)
  • I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.
  • Last night I had a dream, When I got to Africa,
    I had one hell of a rumble.
    I had to beat Tarzan’s behind first,
    For claiming to be King of the Jungle.
    For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators,
    I’ve tustled with a whale.
    I done handcuffed lightning
    And put thunder in jail.
    You know I’m bad.
    I have murdered a rock,
    I’ve injured a stone, and hospitalized a brick.
    I’m so bad, I make medicine sick.
    I’m so fast, man,
    I can run through a hurricane and don't get wet.
    When George Foreman meets me,
    He’ll pay his debt.
    I can drown the drink of water, and kill a dead tree.
    Wait till you see Muhammad Ali.
  • If you were surprised when Nixon resigned, just watch what happens when I whup Foreman's behind!
    • Comment prior to the "Rumble in the Jungle" (30 October 1974) as documented in When We Were Kings (1996)
  • You been hearing about how bad I am since you were a little kid with mess in your pants! Tonight, I'm gonna whip you till you cry like a baby.
    • To George Foreman before the start of the "Rumble in the Jungle" as the referee is giving them instructions (30 October 1974).
  • That's the only way you gonna save this sucker. He's doomed.
    • Comment prior to the "Rumble in the Jungle" about George Foreman prior to the fight, when referee Clayton warned Ali that if he didn't stop talking he would stop the fight. (30 October 1974).
  • Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
    • As quoted in Jet magazine Vol. 58, NO. 1 (August 1992)
  • Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.
  • What's really hurting me, the name Islam is involved, and Muslim is involved and causing trouble and starting hate and violence. ... Islam is not a killer religion. ... Islam means peace, I couldn't just sit home and watch people label Muslims as the reason for this problem.
    • As quoted in "Muhammad Ali Defends His Religion" by Lisa L. Colangelo and Clem Richardson in New York Daily News (21 September 2001), p. 34
  • I'm retiring because there are more pleasant things to do than beat up people.
    • As quoted in Secrets of Power Persuasion for Salespeople (2003) by Roger Dawson , p. 192
  • Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wildlife.
    • As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)
  • It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
    • As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)
  • I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round
    • As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)
  • I'd like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, one tablespoon, teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then, he mix willlingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and he stired it up well, then he spreads it over his span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met.

The Soul of a Butterfly (2004)

Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.
I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.
In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.
The Soul of a Butterfly : Reflections on Life's Journey (2004) (writen with Hana Yasmeen Ali) ISBN 0743255690
  • Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved. Religion and spirituality are very different, but people often confuse the two. Some things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart. Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.
    • p. xvi
  • We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names, but they all contain water. So do religions have different names, and they all contain truth, expressed in different ways forms and times. It doesn't matter whether you're a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family. If you love God, you can't love only some of his children.
    • p. xvii
  • My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I am alive, I will continue to try to understand more because the work of the heart is never done. All through my life I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested. Every step of the way I believe that God has been with me. And, more than ever, I know that he is with me now. I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road. I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.
    • p. xix
  • Wouldn't it be a beautiful world if just 10 percent of the people who believe in the power of love would compete with one another to see who could do the most good for the most people?
    • p. xxiii
  • If we continue to think and live as if we belong only to different cultures and different religions, with separate missions and goals, we will always be in self-defeating competition with each other.
    Once we realize we are all members of humanity, we will want to compete in the spirit of love.
    • p. xxiii
  • In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.
    • p. xxiv
  • To make America the greatest is my goal,
    So I beat the Russians, and I beat the Pole,
    and for the USA won the medal of gold.
    Italians said: "You're Greater than the Cassius of old´´.
    We like your name, we like your game,
    So make Rome your home if you will.
    I said I appreciate your kind hospitality,
    But the USA is my country still,
    'Cause they're waiting to welcome me in Louisville.
    • Poem written after winning the gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Summer Games in Rome, Italy, p. 35
  • Since I won't let the critics seal my fate, they
    keep hollering I'm full of hate.
    But they don't really hurt me none, 'cause
    I'm doing good and having fun.
    • "Still the Greatest", p. 109
  • There live a great man named Joe
    who was belittled by a loudmouth foe.
    While his rival would taunt and tease
    Joe silently bore the stings.
    And then fought like gladiator in the ring.
    • "The Silent Warrior", dedicated to Joe Frazier and his family, p. 112
  • For every struggle that Joe survived,
    For every dispute he endured, to rise,
    Joe will go down in history
    as a model for champions to come.

    While Frazier was a man of few words,
    Ali was a world of mouth,
    but he found his place in history.
    Now his heart can express him well.
    Joe Frazier was a silent warrior,
    whom Ali silently admired.
    One could not rise without the other.

    • "The Silent Warrior", p. 114


  • How do you feel about Hitler sharing yours?
    • Alleged response by Ali to a reporter who asked how he felt about sharing the Islamic faith with the suspects of the World Trade Center terrorist attack, as debunked at
  • My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world.
    • This is actually from Ali's autobiography "The Greatest". However, if read carefully, this quote is actually from Don King and he said it to George Foreman. King was just telling Ali how he managed to convince Foreman to sign the contract.
  • No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger. (Sometimes quoted as "No Viet Cong ever called me a nigger.")
    • Ali biographer Thomas Hauser searched extensively to verify this popular quote's validity, but found no evidence of Ali actually saying it or anything resembling it. (Documented in Ralph Keyes' Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations)
  • If my mind can conceive it; and my heart can believe it — then I can achieve it.

Quotes about Ali

  • Clay is a good enough fighter, but it's unfortunate that he's a Black Muslim. A champion should represent all sects, not one.
    • Joe Louis, as quoted in "'Living legend' still commands respect of peers" by Andrew Baker in The Daily Telegraph (15 January 2002)
  • I'd like to borrow his body for just 48 hours. There are three guys I'd like to beat up, and four women I'd like to make love to.
  • Clay is so young and has been misled by the wrong people... He might as well have joined the Ku Klux Klan.
    • Floyd Patterson, as quoted in "'Living legend' still commands respect of peers" by Andrew Baker in The Daily Telegraph (15 January 2002)
  • Under the influence of Elijah Mohammad — who preached that blacks should refuse to integrate with "white devils" — Ali made a point of dating only black women and lashed out at men and women who engaged in interracial sex. In an interview with Playboy, he declared: "A black man should be killed if he's messing with a white woman." When the interviewer asked about black women crossing the colour barrier, Ali responded: "Then she dies. Kill her, too."
    It's unlikely that a white athlete who made such remarks would receive the praise that Michael Mann heaps on Ali. He says that the fighter "personified racial pride and self-knowledge". The Playboy journalist, who interviewed the boxer, was closer to the mark when he observed of his subject: "You're beginning to sound like a carbon copy of a white racist." ... The transformation of Ali from a great fighter to a celebrated man of conscience and social purpose has succeeded so well because the actual history of his career has been altered to reflect the kinder, gentler man of today. Unpleasant remarks or facts from the past have been swept away or excused. ... A more historically accurate appraisal of Ali would conclude that he was far from heroic outside the ring and was pitifully misused by his masters in the Nation of Islam. For his purposes, Elijah hijacked the impressionable young man's career and filled his head with racist nonsense.
    By the time he finally broke free of the old Nation of Islam, in the 1970s, his career was in its last stages. He continued to fight long past his prime, in part to recover the money and time he had lost in his misadventures with the Black Muslims.

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