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Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Some of the greatest quotes of Muhammad Ali. Quotes on boxing, life, Vietnam war, and recent quotes

Muhammad Ali - The Greatest

"Floats like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see."

Before the 1974 fight against George Foreman

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

"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, hospitalised a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."

Again, before the 1974 Foreman fight

"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and got into bed before the room was dark."

Yet more '74 pre-fight build-up ahead of facing Foreman

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

"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."

"I'm the best. I just haven't played yet."

On playing golf

Muhammad Ali on Boxing

"When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace."

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

"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."

"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."

After losing to Ken Norton, 31 March 1973


"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."

Announcing his conversion to the Muslim faith after first Sonny Liston fight

"What's my name, fool? What's my name?"

To Ernie Terrell during their 1967 fight - Terrell had refused to call him Muhammad Ali

"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?"

"I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a 'nigger'."

"Nobody has to tell me that this is a serious business. I'm not fighting one man. I'm fighting a lot of men, showing a lot of 'em, here is one man they couldn't defeat, couldn't conquer. My mission is to bring freedom to 30m black people."

Before his fight against Jerry Quarry in 1970.

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life."

"What's really hurting me - the name Islam is involved, and Muslim is involved and causing trouble and starting hate and violence. Islam is not a killer religion, Islam means peace. I couldn't just sit home and watch people label Muslims as the reason for this problem."

21 September 2001, in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks


"Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wildlife.


"It will be a killer, and a chiller, and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manila"

Ali, before the "Thrilla in Manila" against Frazier

"I always bring out the best in men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him."

Ali, after the "Thrilla in Manila"

"I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn't have said. Called him names I shouldn't have called him. I apologise for that. I'm sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight."


"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 for ever. 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."

Frazier in reflective mood.

Ali's greatest quotes from BBC

"That all you got George?"

To Foreman late in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire on 30 October 1974

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