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28 brilliant quotes from Muhammad Ali – sadly there will never be anyone like him

Sam Dickson
President Reagan
President Reagan "punching" Muhammad Ali in the oval office, 1983.

Muhammad Ali in 1966. source
Muhammad Ali in 1966. source

He was known as one of the greatest boxers of all time and now Muhammad Ali has died on Friday aged 74. 

The boxing legend died after he was hospitalized on June 2 with breathing issues that were made worse by his Parkinson’s disease. Ali had won countless matches and Olympic medals since taking up boxing at the young age of 12 and was still winning until he retired in 1981.

Throughout his 25 year career, he chalked up 56 wins and lost only five times – and attributed some of his wins to getting inside opponents’ heads with his unparalleled ‘propaganda’ talk. Apart from being a world champion he is also know for his funny and inspiring quotes.  Muhammad Ali, January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016.

‘Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name, and I insist people using it when speaking to me and of me.’

‘It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.’

Scroll down for a clip of his top 10 best knockouts

‘It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller when I get the gorilla in Manila.’ – Ali said this before the historic and legendary ‘Thrilla in Manila’ match against Joe Frazier in 1975.

‘Don’t count the days; make the days count.’

‘Champions aren’t made in the 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.’ – Ali said this prior to a fight against George Foreman in 1974.

‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

‘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.’

‘There are no pleasures in a fight, but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.’

‘I am the greatest, I’m the greatest that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face.’ – Ali said this after he beat competitor Sonny Liston in 1964.

‘Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.’

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.’

‘It’s not bragging if you can back it up.’


Ali with The Beatles in 1964. source
Ali with The Beatles in 1964. source

If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.’

‘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.’

‘My way of joking is to tell the truth. That’s the funniest joke in the world.’

‘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.’ – Ali said this in 1970 when he was convicted of draft evasion.

‘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.’

‘Live every day like it’s your last because someday you’re going to be right.’

‘It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.’

‘Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit, what your eyes can’t see.’ – Prior to his fight against Foreman in 1974.

‘If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.’

‘I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.’

‘It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.’

‘To make America the greatest is my goal, so I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole. And for the USA won the medal of gold. The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old.’ – He said this quote after he won the Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome.

‘A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted thirty years of his life.’

‘I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail,’ Ali said this before fighting George Foreman (above) in 1974 during the historic Rumble in the Jungle match in Zaire

‘I am so fast that last night I turned off the light switch and was in bed before the room was dark.’

‘Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beating each other up.’


Sam Dickson

Sam Dickson is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News