The Greatest of All Time
Few athletes can lay claim to that title, but Muhammad Ali is one of them.
A cultural icon, civil rights hero, and unparalleled heavyweight talent, Ali was universally beloved around the world when he passed away at the age of 74.
The champion boxer did plenty of work with his fists over his exceptional career—including defeating greats like Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, and George Foreman—but he did just as much, and arguably more, with his words.
Ali could talk trash just about as well as he could box, and he also waxed poetic with phrases and quotes that have endured for years. The Olympic gold medal winner and three-time heavyweight champion inspired millions with his doggerel in the ring and out of it.
From serious thoughts on life to a hilarious appraisal of Foreman’s boxing skills, these lines remind us that Ali’s influence will last for a long time to come.
On Risk Taking
“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.'”
On His Speed as a Fighter
“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.”
On George Foreman
“I’ve seen George Foreman shadow boxing, and the shadow won.”
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
“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.”
“My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am.”
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
On Knowing When Not to Talk
“Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”