The 50 Greatest Boxing Quotes of All Time
There's always a big question when it comes to these sort of lists. The question is, how do you determine what quote should be over the other?
The question that answers that question is simple: What makes a great boxing quote?
Boxing is a complex sport with a simple premise: Beat the other man up and either hit him more effectively to win on a point system, or hit him so hard or so much that he can't continue to fight.
This is the simple premise. Boxing beyond the premise is very complicated and filled with conflicts that define what it means to be a boxer.
Money is an example of a complicated issue within boxing. On one hand, we don't want boxers to starve and go broke despite bringing so much to the sport (ex: Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis).
At the same time, boxers tend to take advantage of the fact that they make more money now for doing so much less. This leads to boring fights, useless fights and sometimes for long periods of time, no fights.
What a great quote does is illuminate the truths or issues within boxing, no matter if they are financial, structural, cultural or whatever. Boxing quotes can be funny, sad, angry or perplexing about numerous topics that plague or uplift the sport.
Boxing quotes can also come from all types of sources, from ringside announcers and analysts to boxing managers and trainers to the very boxers themselves that define the sport.
Most of these quotes will come from legendary boxers. Sometimes, no one can tell the truth about the "sweet science" like a long-time warrior of the sport.
Now I'm sure you've been well-broken in, the time has come to reveal the "50 Greatest Boxing Quotes of All Time."
50. "They Only Made One Mistake, They Signed This Fight."
"They only made one mistake, they signed this fight."
—Ferdie "The Fight Doctor" Pacheco
Roberto Duran stepped up from the lightweight division (135 lbs) to the welterweight division (147 lbs) to defeat the best undefeated welterweight of 1980 in Sugar Ray Leonard.
A question was asked by one commentator to the next about whether Sugar Ray Leonard and his team, which included the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, made a mistake.
The other commentator Ferdie Pacheco's response indicated the fact that Roberto Duran was just the better man that night. No amount of extra training or coaching would have produced a different result.
This happens in boxing where one fighter is just meant to shine. If another fighter gets caught in his moment, he gets blinded by the light.
That light that often blinds impeccable boxers is called destiny. Leonard was destined to be defeated that night by the mighty wielder of the "Hands of Stone," Roberto Duran.
49. "...There's No Fighter Smarter Than Me."
"He can have heart, he can hit harder and he can be stronger, but there's no fighter smarter than me."
—Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Like him or not, Floyd Mayweather Jr. captures the essence of what a highly capable tactician can do in the ring to bigger, stronger men with "more heart" than him. Heart doesn't come in handy when the opponent can't be touched or won't engage in a way that allows heart to kick in.
Heart is merely the ability to keep swinging and punching when there's nothing left to recharge the body. Mayweather has proven through cold methodical decimation of opponent after opponent that heart doesn't pull through if the other fighter develops the perfect gameplan.
No matter how much heart you have, if your opponent figures you out, you might as well be the Tinman.
48. "Earnie Shavers Could Punch You in the Neck and Break Your Ankle."
"Earnie Shavers could punch you in the neck and break your ankle."
—Randall "Tex" Cobb
Randall Cobb is known for having one of the best chins in boxing history. That means he can take a meteor of a hit and keep moving without even looking like he was ready to go down.
His chin is proven to be strong because he stood in the ring with a few of the hardest punchers of all time (Larry Holmes and Earnie Shavers) and took their best shots to remain standing and conscious by the end of the fights.
Cobb is also known for his quick wit. He was a very naturally funny man. Combine these two attributes, humor and a powerful chin tested by so many greater punchers, and you have so many gratifying quotes on the punching prowess of his talented opposition that he will make at least one more appearance on this countdown. I guarantee that.
47. "Won't You Come Home Dear Cassius?"
"Won't You Come Home Dear Cassius?"
Muhammad Ali had recently announced he was changing his name from Cassius Clay, his birth name, to Muhammad Ali as a result of his conversion to Islam. Ernie Terrell kept calling him Cassius against Ali's will and pleas for his old name to be left in the dust and his new name be spoken from the lips of those who wish to reference him.
This song, "Won't You Come Home" is one of many taunts Terrell did over the course of the promotion to this 1967 classic one-sided beating in an attempt to get under Ali's skin. The taunts worked, but not in Terrell's favor. The fight between Ali and Terrell resulted in a rare brutal performance from Ali.
He proclaimed, "What's my name?" between hard slugs to Terrell's face. Ali didn't dance and play around in the ring as he usually did at the time, deciding to just constantly impale Terrell's face with sharp anger that can be seen in every missile of a punch fired.
Terrell, against better judgment, stayed on his feet for the full 15 brutal rounds of boxing. Ernie left the ring with a damaged eye and possibly even more damage done to his pride. He would go on to compile a nice record of 46 wins and nine losses, but even almost a half-century later, his most memorable fight is and probably will remain his 15 round face disfigurement at the hands of Muhammad Ali.
46. "I Want Your Heart. I Want to Eat His Children. Praise Be to Allah!"
"I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah!"
Trust me! This is NOT the only time iron (crazy) Mike Tyson will end up on this countdown.
Now yes, many people will wonder why this particular quote is not higher on the list. This is quite possibly his most famous crazy tirade, yet it's No. 46 on my "50 Greatest Boxing Quotes of All Time" list.
My reasoning is that I focus on quotes that have an overall importance to boxing history, legacy, philosophy and politics. This is a time capsule of Tyson's unpredictable ways, but nothing more.
Tyson, contrary to popular belief, has actually captured a lot of scholarly thoughts on the sport of boxing. Some of these quotes will log themselves higher on the countdown. These quotes are far more valuable than his random rants on ripping his opponents apart and committing cannibalism against their families. Despite the odd nature of this rant, Tyson has said crazier things.
If you don't believe me that Tyson has said crazier things, then there's a link with many of his most wildest quotes, but be warned of the harsh language and extreme sexual content of the video. Here it is!
45. "My Punches Are Just As Hard in Chicago As in New York."
"My punches are just as hard in Chicago as in New York."
Sonny Liston is one the baddest men to ever box. Every generation has a terror for a boxer who strikes fear in all those who face him. Mike Tyson was that fighter during the late 1980's and early 1990's. George Foreman was the fighter for the 1970's. Sonny Liston was that fighter during the 1960's.
The year is 1962. Liston was set to fight Floyd Patterson. Patterson was a legendary light-heavyweight (175 lbs) and heavyweight fighter. The move to heavyweight didn't affect Patterson's body much. He still had the smaller body-type of a light-heavyweight, but fought competitively as can be seen in his wondrous trilogy with Swedish boxing legend, Ingemar Johansson.
Liston was a full-fledge heavyweight. He was knocking out any and everybody who got in the ring with him. This was still a little less than two years removed from the whooping Ali would give Liston to ignite the gasoline to his own career.
When Liston and Patterson scheduled to fight in New York, the state denied Liston a license to fight because of his criminal record, which included assault of a police officer. The venue was changed to Chicago.
When asked how he felt about this change in the location of the fight, Liston replied with the above quote. His words proved true. Patterson was floored in the first round and could not beat the 10 count. The two would rematch and Patterson would be knocked out again in the first round.
44. "Who Killed Davey Moore? Why and What's the Reason For?"
"Who Killed Davey Moore? Why and what's the reason for?"
- Bob Dylan. Who Killed Davey Moore?
The song, Who Killed Davey Moore? was written in 1963 by legendary folk singer Bob Dylan. Dylan wrote this song with a very nursery rhyme hook that is quite addictive. The tune uses its six verses to dissect the real death of former American featherweight (126 lbs) boxer Davey Moore, who died in the ring (actually in his dressing room) at the hands of Sugar Ramos.
Each verse is written from the perspective of someone who could be pointed to as deserving all the blame. From that said entity's perspective, Dylan rebuts the accusatory hook to defend that particular character.
The characters defending themselves went as follows in the song:
Verse one: The referee who didn't stop the fight in time.
Verse two: The angry crowd who cheered the fight along.
Verse three: Boxing manager.
Verse four: gambling man.
Verse five: boxing writer for typing anything to hype a fight (sounds strangely familiar).
Verse six: the Cuban boxer "whose fist laid him low in a cloud of mist," Sugar Ramos.
Each character or set of characters proclaimed their innocence and why. This song is important, because it's about the confusion and instant mortality that comes with boxing. While boxing may be one of the most compelling sports to ever exist, it also has one of the biggest drawbacks in sports history: It can kill you.
43. "...if I Survived the Marines, I Can Survive Ali."
"...if I survived the Marines, I can survive Ali."
This quote was given by Chuck Wepner to a reporter asking Wepner, a relatively unknown fighter at the time, if he thought he could survive against Ali. Wepner got a $100,000 guarantee to fight Muhammad Ali, more money than he ever got for a fight previously.
Thanks to the extra money, Wepner was able to train full time for the fight of his life. He surprised the world when he gave Ali a very competitive match, even managing to knock Ali down in the ninth round. Ali's fists hammered Wepner enough to produce a knockout in the last round of their 15 round battle, but he almost went the distance with the loudmouth legend.
Wepner gave an ugly fight complete with rabbit punches and clumsy steps onto Ali's feet, but in this mess of a fight was a heart-filled performance that inspired Sylvester Stallone to write and later direct the underdog tale of a movie, Rocky. This kind of display shows how almost any fighter can dig deep enough to leave a lasting impression for the boxing fans to be stunned.
42. “Sure the Fight Was Fixed. I Fixed It with a Right Hand.”
“Sure the fight was fixed. I fixed it with a right hand.”
He knocked out heavyweight legends Joe Fraizer and Ken Norton in the second round. He got into a rematch with Fraizer only to knock him and later Ron Lyle out in the fifth round.
The fighter who dominated the legendary heavyweight division of the 1970's arguably more than even Muhammad Ali could fix just about any fight with the power behind his fists.
Don't believe me? Just ask Ring Magazine, which ranked him ninth on its list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.
41. “There Are Too Many Governing Bodies. They're All Corrupt."
“There are too many governing bodies. They're all corrupt. I think they have replaced the old Mobsters with the kind of 'corporate rule' of boxing.”
Being a long-time commentator on the sport of boxing, Larry Merchant has seen it all. His opinion tends to matter on big subjects, so when something like the issue of having too many belts and weight classes comes up, his word is going to be looked at for confirmation of how everyone else should think on a particular issue. On this issue, I think many would agree with Larry Merchant.
40. "You Can Be Free. You Can Be Black. Look At Me! I'm The Heavyweight Champion
"You can be free. You can be black. Look at me! I'm the Heavyweight Champion! Can't nobody stop me."
A more obscure Ali quote, but quite possibly one of his best. Sums up in a nutshell what Ali's mission statement on Earth.
39. "I Liked That Title...If I Had to Lose It, I'm Glad I Lost It To You...
"I liked that title. I didn't want to lose it to anybody, but if I had to lose it, I'm glad I lost it to you. You're a good fighter and gonna be a great champ."
—Jersey Joe Walcott
In this quote, the veteran sings quite possibly the best praise a rising star can receive. A rare act of humility is found in this quote.
38. "It's Like Someone Jammed an Electric Light Bulb in Your Face..."
"It's like someone jammed an electric light bulb in your face, and busted it. I thought half my head was blowed off...When he knocked me down I could have stayed there for three weeks."
—James J Braddock
This quotes came from James Braddock attempting to describe what being on the other end of the punching power of Joe Louis is like. If the above video is any indication, a Joe Louis punch can cure insomnia. Braddock went straight to sleep in round eight once Louis tucked him in with his fist.
37. "I Fight for Perfection"
"I fight for perfection," Mike Tyson
"Do you achieve it?" Charlie Rose
"Nah! No one does, but we aim for it," Mike Tyson
One of the best interviews Charlie Rose has ever conducted and one of the best interviews Mike Tyson has ever given. In 1990, Mike Tyson was at the height of his powers before the "Buster Douglas situation," the rape trial, the Bite Fight and so many other acts that would come to define the image of Mike Tyson more than his boxing skills and dominance of the heavyweight division.
36. "I Don't Think His Hands Could Take the Abuse."
"I don't think his hands could take the abuse."
—Randall "Tex" Cobbs
Randall Cobbs is very witty and has an amazing chin. That chin led to one of the ugliest continued beatdowns in recent memory at the heavy hands of Larry Holmes (the above video depicts highlights of the fight). The wit of Cobbs led to him to answer the question of whether he wanted to rematch with Holmes with a great answer.
35. "The Question Isn't at What Age I Want to Retire, It's at What Income."
"The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income."
George Foreman defied the odds, the years and the naysayers to go ahead and knock out champion Michael Moorer for his world title. He got glory and money at 45 years old. His statement on retiring when his money right is good enough grew merit with a victory like that against Moorer.
34. "...I Want the Public to See a Knockout in the Making."
"Bruce Lee was an artist and, like him, I try to go beyond the fundamentals of my sport. I want the public to see a knockout in the making."
—Sugar Ray Leonard
Sugar Ray Leonard, like his idol, is an artist in the ring. He made up punches, danced and pranced around the ring, and overall put on one of the greatest shows of all time for the fans of the sport.
33. "I Could've Been a Contender..."
"I could've been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."
—Terry Malloy as played by Marlon Brando in the movie, On The Waterfront.
In this scene, Brando's character regrets taking a dive against an opponent he knew he could beat in order to appease the mob who placed bets on the other fighter.
While not every fighter goes through the specific instance of taking a dive, many go through a point in their careers where one pivotal mistake changes everything. This scene captures the regret that goes along with it, and is so poignant even today.
32. "I Ain't Got No Quarrel with Them Vietcong..."
"I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong. They never called me nigger."
When Muhammad Ali took his stance against the Vietnam War, he invited trouble from the media and the U.S. government. He took on a nation determined to do wrong, but he was determined to do right. This quote sums up his belief on the Vietnam War.
When a boxer shows that they can stand up for something even at the cost of their popularity or even championship belts, it shows a deeper impulse and purpose in what they do. This deeper meaning behind why they step in the ring is in the center of how they conduct themselves in the ring.
31. "No Mas."
The quote means "no more" in Spanish. This phrase became infamous after Roberto Duran, a man who had never quit or be knocked out before in his professional career of over 70 fights, uttered this phrase at the end of the eighth round of his second fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Sugar Ray Leonard had came forward and fought a more direct fight in their first clash. This helped Duran cruise to a unanimous decision victory. In the second fight, Leonard decided to dance and prance around the ring. He taunted Duran and frustrated him. Leonard was winning through embarrassing the champ, instead of fighting him.
When Duran quit, the boxing world was shocked and befuddled. When Duran was asked why he quit, he said stomach cramps. His trainer, Ray Arcel, said he never complained of stomach cramps. His manager, Carlos Eleta, thinks he didn't have stomach cramps, but was just too embarrassed by the way Ray Leonard was beating him to keep going.
What this phrase has taught fans is that truly anything is possible in the world of boxing. At any moment, anything can happen and change the course of history inside the squared circle.
30. "...I Fight for That Check. I'm in the Check Cashing Business."
—Floyd Mayweather Jr.
This quote represents more than just Mayweather's agenda. The quote represents the changing tide in motivations in boxing and possibly all of sports. The love and pride that goes into fighting has left somewhat in favor of the greedy grab for money that has plagued and ultimately helped kill the old sport.
29. "Rhythm Is Everything in Boxing..."
"Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm or you're in trouble."
—Sugar Ray Robinson
Ray Robinson is widely thought of as the greatest boxer of all time. Any advice on boxing from him is considered of great authority. If he speaks, listen.
28. “This Fight Is More About What Roy Jones Lost Than What I Took.”
“This fight is more about what Roy Jones lost than what I took,”
Roy Jones was seen as a great boxer during the 1990's, so much so that he was awarded "Fighter of the Decade" for the 1990's by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Roy Jones then proceeded to make more history by moving up to the heavyweight division to defeat John Ruiz and capture the heavyweight championship. That made him the first middleweight (160 lbs) to capture a heavyweight title in over a century. Jones could have retired at this point, but he didn't.
Jones went on to fight Antonio Tarver and escape with a unanimous decision. Tarver kept warning Jones that he'd beat him. They rematched and Tarver knocked him out in the second round. This was the first knockout loss of Roy Jones' career.
Jones as a person is rich, healthy, and living well now in retirement, but Jones the fighter would never be the same. Tarver's quote pitch-perfectly reflects the impact of Jones being knocked out for the first time after dominating for so long.
27. "Once, I Was at a Party..."
"Once, I was at a party...This was at a time when it seemed like I had everything. I was young. I was undefeated. I had money. I`d just moved into my own home. People at the party were laughing and having fun. And I missed my mother. I felt so lonely. I remember asking myself, `Why isn`t my mother here? Why are all these people around me? I don`t want these people around me.' I looked out the window and started crying."
—Oscar De La Hoya
Life at the top can be lonely. No one's usually more lonely than a rich boxer in his prime and ahead of his division.
26. "He Went to the Hospital with Bleeding Kidneys..I Went Dancing with My Wife"
"He went to the hospital with bleeding kidneys and me, I went dancing with my wife."
Believed to have possibly the best chin in boxing history, George Chuvalo went the distance with Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali twice. Chuvalo was never knocked down in 93 professional fights. Even Ali answered Chuvalo when asked who was the toughest heavyweight he ever faced. Chuvalo lost the fight, but left healthy. Ali won the fight, but paid dearly for his victory.
25. "His Mouth Made Him [Feel] Like He Was Gonna Win..."
"His mouth made him [feel] like he was gonna win. Not his hands, I had my hand. He had his lips."
Joe Frazier may not have the verbal dexterity of Muhammad Ali, but his fist always provided a good response to everything Ali had said about him over the course of their epic and brutal trilogy of fights.
24. "The Time May Have Come to Say Goodbye to Muhammad Ali..."
"The time may have come to say goodbye to Muhammad Ali, because very honestly, I don't think he can beat George Foreman."
Any time you have a famous and much revered sports analyst who is supposed to be without too much bias swinging so far in one direction that he is almost giving a eulogy to the predicted loser of the fight, the perceived loser of the hypothetical fight has to be a true underdog.
Muhammad Ali was in fact a true underdog going against the biggest and most vicious rising star of the decade, George Foreman. The man was wiping out men Ali struggled with in a mere two rounds. Ken Norton and Joe Frazier didn't make it out of the second round.
Ali was believed to be playing with fire, but he didn't get burnt. In fact, he put out the fire. The flame that was George Foreman was humbled in defeat and Ali etched himself further into immortality by defying the predictions of even his toughest critics.
23. "The [Temptation] for Greatness Is the Biggest Drug in the World."
"The [temptation] for greatness is the biggest drug in the world."
In this interview, Mike Tyson speaks on avenging Muhammad Ali's defeat at the hands of Trevor Berbick. Tyson also speaks on beating Larry Holmes, not spending his money wisely, the death of D'Amato and other things. What stands out amongst all is toward the end of the video when he speaks on Don King and how easily he was tempted into Don King's greedy hands.
Tyson spoke on how the temptation of greatness is a drug that cannot be outdone by real drugs. Tyson has tried. He said he tried every drug in the world and admitted he would kill himself if he tried to replicate what being champion of the world feels like.
It's this high that influences championship fans to be championship boxers. Tyson got a taste and stayed in the boxing world for as long as he could, even as his skills began to deeply decline. Many boxers have and will overstay their welcome because being world champion is an addiction that once a contender gets a hit of, they never want the high to go away.
22. "Eye of the Tiger."
"Eye of the Tiger."
The rock band was requested by Sylvester Stallone to form a song for Rocky III. Stallone wanted "Another One Bites the Dust" from Queen. When that request was denied, he got Survivor to write quite possibly the greatest boxing song to train to of all time.
Just listen to it. I can't help but shadowbox whenever the beat jumps in my ear.
21. “I Made a Lot of Mistakes out of the Ring, but I Never Made Any in It.”
“I made a lot of mistakes out of the ring, but I never made any in it.”
Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion on December 26, 1908. He had to fight everybody for nearly six years to get the chance. His style was one of patience and defense, a precursor to the much similar styles of the atypical slick Black American boxer of today. Looking at his old fights, he rarely made a mistake inside the ring.
20. "The Loss Just Made Me Hungry..."
"The loss just made me hungry; it made me want to go out and win another title."
—Thomas (Tommy) Hearns
He was 32-0 before Sugar Ray Leonard dethroned him. Hearns' reaction was to put in more work. He goes out and perfects his craft. Some boxers see a loss on a record as signs that a fighter isn't as good as some believe, but it all depends on who you fight, and if you beat them.
19. "Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier!"
"Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!"
This demolition by George Foreman to Joe Frazier witnessed excitedly in memorable fashion by Howard Cosell represented a changing of the eras. Foreman was king now. Frazier, who beat Ali, was considered the man favored for victory.
Foreman changed all that with six knockdowns within the first two rounds. The first knockdown in the first round shocked everyone. Frazier had never lost in his professional career up to that point of 29 victories, and he looked hurt, as if he wouldn't make it out the ring alive. Frazier made it out alive, just not undefeated.
18. "It's Different When You Become a Professional..."
"It's different when you become a professional, because you also have to become a businessman, and that takes something away from it."
—Sugar Ray Leonard
What is Sugar Ray Leonard saying here? Is he speaking on how money corrupts sports and leagues from boxing to basketball to golf to tennis? Boxing is a dangerous sport, so money is needed at a certain level to justify the willingness to put health on the line.
The negotiation process for more wealth for risking their health can lead to much desired fights not happening, and two friends or acquaintances can become enemies behind an argument over purse money rather than a friendly pair of rivals who beat each other into profound respect and awe at each others' skills.
17. "The Fight Is Won or Lost Far Away from Witnesses..."
"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."
Training is probably the biggest portion of a boxer's career. How did they train? Did they train for this, that and the unexpected? Did they train enough? Did they starve or gorge themselves while training? Did they get interrupted by drugs, court cases, business, family and other drama while training?
Ali hit the mark with this quote on how important training is to victory.
16. "... Motivation..."
"There are a lot of things and in order to be at the top and maintain your focus you have to have something that motivates you. For me, it was what I perceived as a lack of respect from the boxing world as well as the media, which made me want to work so hard and be great."
—Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Marvelous Marvin Hagler is a fighter who is consistently ranked below the likes of Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. He also never gained the fanfare those fighters got in the same era. It's questionable as to who accomplished more in their careers, but Hagler is truly an elite veteran deserving to be ranked near them in the record books even if he isn't ranked above them.
15. “He Saved My Life...I Can’t Thank Him Enough for the Chance To Fight Him."
“He saved my life, he saved my career. I can’t thank him enough for the chance to fight him.”
Norton in the 1970's was going through numerous financial difficulties. Ken Norton was a 5-1 underdog against Muhammad Ali when they fought March 31, 1973. Norton didn't do like many in his position would've done and fight just to get a paycheck. Norton fought aggressively with jabs to try and beat Ali.
Ali had a big mystique about him, because he had only a loss to Joe Frazier at the time. Ali was still considered one of the top superstars at heavyweight. Norton was, for what counts, an unknown. The victory shot him into fame, and resurfaced his career from the drowning ship that it had become.
Norton went to war with Ali twice more and Ali won both times. Despite Ali's twin successful attempts at redemption, Norton is as much a compelling star for the duration of the trilogy with Ali as Ali was. Norton is living proof that obscurity and fame are merely one fateful night apart.
14. "Getting Hit Motivates Me. It Makes Me Punish the Guy More..."
"Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the guy more. A fighter takes a punch, hits back with three punches."
In Christianity, the one thing that every follower is told to learn is John 3:16. It's about God sending Jesus to die for everyone's sins, and professing that those who believe in Him will have everlasting life. That one scripture is the foundation of Christianity.
In the Bible of the boxing brawler, Roberto Duran's statement about getting hit with a punch only to return three more is John 3:16. Whoever shall return more fire against those who fire at them will have everlasting victories and a boatload of accolades.
13. "Once That Bell Rings You're on Your Own. It's Just You and the Other Guy."
"Once that bell rings you're on your own. It's just you and the other guy."
Possibly the truest spoken statement about boxing. No coach, mentor, inspirational speaker, background theme music band, group of fans, reporter, wife, flock of kids, girlfriend, lover, mistress, hooker, chauffeur, butler, maid, manager or referee can fight for a boxer scheduled to go 12 rounds with another boxer.
12. "...It's What You Do With [Fear] That Matters."
"The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same thing, fear, but it's what you do with it that matters."
The former trainer of Mike Tyson until his death in 1985, Cus D'Amato knew a lot about fear. Mike Tyson was the most feared man in boxing at the time of his prime. This comes as no surprise when one considers D'Amato's quote and what D'Amato possibly taught Tyson to get him ready for world domination.
11. "You never got me down Ray."
"You never got me down Ray."
—Robert DeNiro (as Jake LaMotta)
Though possibly over-glamorized in the Martin Scorsesce-directed film, Jake LaMotta's last fight with Sugar Ray Robinson ended in a dramatic technical knockout in round 13. This brought an ending to one of boxing's greatest fight series between two legends.
The match was ended by the referee as LaMotta leaned against the ropes, taking too much punishment without any return fire. The quote shows that LaMotta is unquestionably one of the toughest fighters to ever lace up a pair of gloves.
10. "...Appreciation For The Finer and Better Things Of Life."
"The possession of muscular strength and the courage to use it in contests with other men for physical supremacy does not necessarily imply a lack of appreciation for the finer and better things of life."
Jack Johnson did in fact enjoy the finer things in life. He smiled with a set of golden teeth that replaced his natural born ones. He had copious amounts of sex with white women, a forbidden act in 1908 when Johnson won the world heavyweight title. He was rebellious, proud and loud, especially with his fist.
9. "If You Screw Up in Boxing, It's Your Ass."
"If you screw things up in tennis, it's 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it's your ass."
-Randall "Tex" Cobb
Here's my last comical saying from Randall Cobb brought to you in part by this man's chin. He can't be knocked down apparently and this has led to him having SO much insight on what happens when fists go flying into the human face.
His wit helps deliver his personal ring insight into the funniest quotes boxing has to offer, this one included.
8. "We Got so Accustomed to It We Thought We Deserved It.”
“It's been like that forever. We got spoiled by Joe Louis, by Rocky Marciano. Muhammad ruined us for everybody. He was great outside [the ring]; he was great inside. We got so accustomed to it we thought we deserved it.”
Angelo Dundee has trained some of the best fighters of all time including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and even George Foreman when he came back to boxing to become the oldest heavyweight champion of all time at age 45.
Dundee has seen some of our greatest fighters and his assessment can be deemed accurate or inaccurate, but truth be told, the fighters he dealt with in the 1970's and 1980's are rare. They were entertainers in every aspect.
Today's boxers only entertain in a build-up to a fight, but not on fight night or they can't get anybody excited to see a fight. But they can put on a hell of an inspiring showdown (too bad nobody will see it).
Boxing will always exist in some format of consistent talent, but the days of the megastar on the level of Louis, Ali or Leonard are over. If not, lace up a pair of gloves and prove me wrong.
7. "I'm Not God, but I Am Something Similar."
"I'm not God, but I am something similar."
Duran may not have beaten every fighter he ever faced, but he did face every fighter who was considered among the greatest of his time. From Benitez to Leonard to Hearns to Hagler, Duran faced everyone. This attitude of one who is willing to fight all the greats in order to be great is not quite reflected in today's young fighters. Maybe someone watching Duran at home is training as we speak to topple his extensive legacy.
6. "To See a Man Beaten Not by a Better Opponent but by Himself Is a Tragedy."
"To see a man beaten not by a better opponent but by himself is a tragedy."
Cus D'Amato brought Tyson into the world. Then D'Amato died and much of the progress made with Tyson died with him. From drug addictions to aggressive violent behavior, Mike Tyson destroyed himself from within. His implosion knocked him down to being merely one of the greats and not above them.
5. "...Watching Ali Gave Me the Great Deal of Confidence..."
"Even though I heard him say he doesn't believe, cuz' that's why from watching Ali gave me the great deal of confidence and deep-down inner belief to believe there's no man fighting that could beat me."
On the Arsenio Hall Show, Hall invited Muhammad Ali to join him. Even though Parkinson's had set in a little bit at this time, Ali's trademark personality was still very much on display. Then Hall dropped the bomb on everybody.
Surprise guests Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson walked onto the set with Muhammad Ali. Three different unique champions, all among the greatest of all time speaking on boxing.
Mike Tyson had the best quotes of the night. One was a story about meeting Ali in a detention center. The best though was in response to Ali saying Tyson would knock him out. Tyson felt Ali could take harder punches from harder punchers like Earnie Shavers and George Foreman.
Then Tyson went into detail about what he felt Ali believed in order to portray that his opponent and his fans. From this rant comes a lot of information about how one legendary boxer inspires the next legend. Seeing the passing of the heavyweight baton in full color and sound is truly one of the most interesting moments in talk show and boxing history.
4. "Only in America."
"Only in America."
Now when Don King starts talking, that's usually when it's too late. The old-as-dirt boxing promoter has talked his way into and out of the pockets of everyone from Mike Tyson to Muhammad Ali. His signature phrase is usually coupled with an improvised speech frequently on the opportunities (most of them financial) being in America can earn a fighter and the words tailor themselves for any given boxer he wants.
Don King's gift of gab has given boxing some of its greatest events from "The Fight of the Century" between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier to the "Rumble in the Jungle" between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.
Today, Don King still has his hand over some of boxing's best and brightest. The next major fight he's involved in will be when the 23-year-old phenom he promotes named Devon Alexander seeks to end the reign of the No. 1-rated 140 lb. fighter, Timothy Bradley, on January 29, 2011.
Even if there's likely some trickery and money stealing in the background, you can bet that if Don King's promoting the fight, it's going to be one hell of a night.
3. ..."Pound for Pound...Sugar Ray Robinson Was the Greatest of All Time..."
"That man was beautiful. Timing, speed, reflexes, rhythm, his body, everything was beautiful. And to me, still, I would say pound for pound...I'd say I'm the greatest heavyweight of all time, but pound for pound, I still say Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest of all time."
For someone as boastful and prideful as Ali to step themselves down to bring you up, you must be special. Indeed, Sugar Ray Robinson was and is forever special to the world of boxing. History has recorded his achievements. I would recommend those who haven't been a witness to watch Sugar Ray fight.
2. "We Gon' Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee..."
"We gon' float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. AH! Rumble, young man rumble! AH!"
Bundini is Muhammad Ali's trainer. The catchphrase has brought itself deep into the heart of boxing pop culture. The phrase describes, in entertaining fashion, what Ali's style is and the true goal of many boxers. The goal is to not get hit (float) and to hit hard (sting).
The phrase has inspired and continues to inspire many thinkers and doers of all backgrounds and professions, not just boxing. Not many boxing phrases eclipse the sport on the level this phrase has. This boxing quote is very likely the best known of all time.
Before We Get To No. 1:
Before revealing the number one greatest boxing quote of all time, the following links are to more articles by this writer (they'll pop up in a new window). If you like this author, please continue to read, comment, and like his other articles:
1. "I Fought Sugar So Many Times, I'm Surprised I'm Not Diabetic."
"The three toughest fighters I ever fought were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times, I'm surprised I'm not diabetic."
Over the years, LaMotta has stated many variations of the quote when bragging about fighting Sugar Ray Robinson (such as one in the above video at the 3:28 point). Here's another popular variation:
"I fought Sugar Ray so many times, it's a wonder I don't have diabetes."
Fighting Sugar Ray Robinson defined LaMotta's legacy. Fighting LaMotta increased Sugar Ray Robinson's legacy as well. The two are forever intertwined as a pair of the greatest rivals in boxing history.
Many times, the best in boxing are not only afraid to fight each other once, but if the fight's too close, they don't dare fight each other again.
Where are the rematches? Even Sugar Ray Leonard only fought Marvelous Hagler once. Tommy Hearns grew sick of being cheated after he suffered a draw against Leonard in what he felt should've been a victory.
In today's boxing, Paul Williams was initially reluctant to put himself on the line against Sergio Martinez after beating him to a majority decision during the late 2009 fight of the year contender. They finally held a rematch after HBO did everything but place a gun to each of their heads. Sergio Martinez knocked Paul Williams out in the second round, creating one of the most beautiful knockouts of all time.
Eventually, more trilogies and series of fights will emerge, but Robinson vs. LaMotta is a hard-to-equal standard that hopefully the coming and growing generation of boxers will learn from.
Well, thank you for reading. I know my list is controversial and not the perceived list of what the popular great quotes are, but nonetheless, it is a list of what I perceive to be the greatest quotes of all time. Thanks again and here's another quotes from yours truly to reflect on.
"Let the words of the past be a direction, not a road map.
Let the actions of those who made history be a foundation, not the building.
Honor the greats, but be sure to beat them as well.
They will appreciate you for going further than they ever dreamed."
—Justin David Tate
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