I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round.
It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
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 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
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.
Superman don’t need no seatbelt.
When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.
I’m the best. I just haven’t played yet.
On playing golf.
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.
Only the nose knows where the nose goes when the doors close.
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
ON RACE, RELIGION AND LIFE
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
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
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.
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
ALI vs FRAZIER
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
Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.
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.
ON OTHER OPPONENTS
Hey Floyd – I seen you! Someday I’m gonna whup you! Don’t you forget, I am the greatest!
To then-world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson during the 1960 Olympic Games.
Why, Chump, I bet you scare yourself to death just starin’ in the mirror. You ugly bear! You ain’t never fought nobody but tramps and has beens. You call yourself a world champion? You’re too old and slow to be champion!
To Sonny Liston before their fight on 25 February 1964
I shook up the world! I shook up the world!
After beating Liston
That all you got George?
To Foreman late in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire on 30 October 1974
Published by African Press in Norway, APN, firstname.lastname@example.org