The Greatest Quotes of Muhammad Ali
"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."
—Muhammad Ali, 1974
Muhammad Ali is not only recognized as the greatest boxer in history, but as one of the greatest entertainers in history. The best way for him to sum up his greatness was by using his very own quotes.
Many of these quotes increased his global appeal and unmatched popularity. These quotes have become more famous than many presidential quotes.
Here, we view the best of the best.
Quotes of Greatness
—Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
—A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light, and I'm crowing.
—I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.
—I'm not the greatest, I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round.
—I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.
—It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am.
—I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.
Quotes of Inspiration
—Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
—He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
—I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
—I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.
—If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
—It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.
—It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.
—Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don't let yourself believe it will happen to you.
—Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.
—The man who has no imagination has no wings.
—What keeps me going is goals.
—Champions aren't made in gyms, champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.
Quotes of Life, Faith, Race and Reality
—A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
—At home, I am a nice guy, but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far.
—Friendship...is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.
—Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.
—I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.
—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.
—It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
—Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it and I don't want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name—it means beloved of God—and I insist people use it when people speak to me and of me.
—No one knows what to say in the loser's locker room.
—Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams—they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do—they all contain truths.
—Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
—Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer.
—There are no pleasures in a fight, but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.
—To be able to give away riches is mandatory if you wish to possess them. This is the only way that you will be truly rich.
—Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.
—We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.
—When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.
—I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free.
—I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
Quotes of Intimidation and Controversy
—Why, chump, I bet you scare yourself to death just starin' in the mirror. You ugly bear! You ain't never fought nobody but tramps and has-beens. You call yourself a world champion? You're too old and slow to be champion!
—What's my name, fool? What's my name? [to Ernie Terrell, who refused to call him Muhammad Ali].
—I seen you! Someday I'm gonna whup you! Don't you forget, I am the greatest!
—Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.
—It will be a killer, and a chiller, and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manila.
—I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.
—Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.
—The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
—That all you got, George? [to George Foreman]
Quotes of Humour
—My toughest fight was with my first wife.
—Superman don't need no seat belt.
—I'm the best [at golf]. I just haven't played yet.
—Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.
—I figure I'll be champ for about ten years and then I'll let my brother take over—like the Kennedy's down in Washington.
—My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world.
—I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.
—I'm the most recognized and loved man that ever lived 'cause there weren't no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn't know about them.
—If you even dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologize.
Muhammad Ali has apologized many times for some of his actions and harsh words, mostly the ones directed toward Joe Frazier.
"I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn't have said," Ali once said. "Called him names I shouldn't have called him. I apologize for that. I'm sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight."
Said Frazier: "The Butterfly and me have been through some ups and downs and there have been lots of emotions, many of them bad. But I have forgiven him. I had to.
"You cannot hold out forever. There were bruises in my heart because of the words he used. I spent years dreaming about him and wanting to hurt him. But you have got to throw that stick out of the window. Do not forget that we needed each other, to produce some of the greatest fights of all time."
I understand if some people may have been offended by a "quote" in this article. I must state that these are all quotes made by Muhammad Ali himself! Post a comment below if you feel one crosses the line.