Muhammad Ali Quotes

Muhammad Ali

Born: 17 January 1942, Louisville, Kentucky

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr to a sign painter, who had been named after the 19th century abolitionist. At twelve, his bicycle was stolen, when he reported it to police he declared he would beat up the thief. Officer Joe E. Martin replied that Clay had better learn to fight, and began to train him. As an amateur, Clay lost five bouts while winning a hundred, including the Kentucky Golden Gloves title six times, the Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics at Rome. As a pro he was 19-0 before his first title fight against Sonny Liston. During this period he had turned from his Baptist roots to Islam but held off on announcing it as promoters of the title bout feared it would hurt turnout. After winning the title he announced that he was a member of the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) and changed his name first to Cassius X (à la Malcolm X, one of his mentors) and then to Muhammad Ali. He failed the US Armed Forces qualifying tests that year (1964), but in 1966 the tests were revised and Ali was classified 1A. When called up in 1967 he refused induction on the grounds of conscience and was found guilty of a felony, resulting in his losing his boxing licenses. The US Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971 (on procedural grounds). He returned to the ring and regained his title in “The Rumble in the Jungle” (1974), which was followed in 1975 by “The Thrilla in Manilla”. In 1978 he lost the title in February, regained it in September, retired, but then came back in 1980 and came back in an unsuccessful attempt to win the title an unprecedented four times. In 1984 he announced that he had Parkinson’s Syndrome, which is much more common for those who have suffered repetitive head trauma. Ali broke with the Nation of Islam, at least partially over their racial separatist stance, and converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, in 2005 he embraced Sufism. He traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan as a UN “Messenger of Peace” in 2002. George W. Bush presented Ali with the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in separate ceremonies in 2005. That year the Muhammad Ali Center opened in Louisville, devoted to peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth.

Muhammad Ali quotes:

Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
    Muhammad Ali

Ain’t no reason for me to kill nobody in the ring, unless they deserve it.
    Muhammad Ali

Allah is the Greatest. I’m just the greatest boxer.
    Muhammad Ali

At home I’m a nice guy; but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.
    Muhammad Ali

Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.
    Muhammad Ali

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

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.
    Muhammad Ali

Don’t count the days, make the days count.
    Muhammad Ali

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.
    Muhammad Ali

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
    Muhammad Ali

God gave me this illness to remind me that I’m not Number One; He is.
    Muhammad Ali

Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.
    Muhammad Ali

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

I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.
    Muhammad Ali

I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I’m in a world of my own.
    Muhammad Ali

I don’t always know what I’m talking about, but I know I’m right.
    Muhammad Ali

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.
    Muhammad Ali

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

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.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali – Statement after losing his fight to Ken Norton (31 March 1973)

I say get an education. Become an electrician, a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer, anything but a fighter. In this trade, it’s the managers that make the money and last the longest.
    Muhammad Ali

I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.
    Muhammad Ali

I’m retiring because there are more pleasant things to do than beat up people.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.
    Muhammad Ali

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

If you love God, you can’t love only some of his children.
    Muhammad Ali

If you were surprised when Nixon resigned, just watch what happens when I whup Foreman’s behind!
    Muhammad Ali – Comment prior to the “Rumble in the Jungle” (30 October 1974)

In a competition of love we’ll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.
    Muhammad Ali

Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.
    Muhammad Ali

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

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

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

My toughest fight was with my first wife.
    Muhammad Ali

No one knows what to say in the loser’s locker room.
    Muhammad Ali

Old age is just a record of one’s whole life.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

Others may know pleasure, but pleasure is not happiness. It has no more importance than a shadow following a man.
    Muhammad Ali

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
    Muhammad Ali

Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.
    Muhammad Ali

Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn’t belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.
    Muhammad Ali – The Soul of a Butterfly (2004)

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

The man who has no imagination has no wings.
    Muhammad Ali

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
    Muhammad Ali

There are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.
    Muhammad Ali

They can boo me, yell at me, and throw peanuts at me, as long as they pay to get in.
    Muhammad Ali

To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.
    Muhammad Ali

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.
    Muhammad Ali

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if just ten 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?
    Muhammad Ali


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