-I don’t always know what I’m talking about but I know I’m right.
-Float like a butterfly! Sting like a bee! Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.
-If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.
-I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.
-A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.
-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.
-Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.
-We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.
-Wisdom is knowing when you can’t be wise.
-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.
-It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
-My way of joking is to tell the truth. That’s the funniest joke in the world.
-Love is a net that catches hearts like a fish.
-Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.
-I’m the most recognized and loved man that ever lived cuz there weren’t no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so
people far away in the villages didn’t know about them.
-All I want now is to be a nice, clean gentleman. I’ve proved my point. Now I’m going to set an example for all the nice boys and girls. I’m through talking.
(Meeting with reporters on the morning after the Sonny Liston fight)
-Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths.
-I’m a Muslim. I’ve been a Muslim for 20 years. . . . You know me. I’m a boxer. I’ve been called the greatest. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn’t be here representing Islam if it were terrorist. . . . I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace.
(Speaking on September 21, 2001 at a fundraiser for victims of the WTC and Pentagon attacks.)
-Prejudice comes from being in the dark; sunlight disinfects it.
-Ain’t no reason for me to kill nobody in the ring.
(Comment after the fight with Jimmy Ellis in July 1971 was stopped by the referee in the twelfth round.)
-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.
-People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone. Like President Kennedy – nobody like him. Like The Beatles, there will never be anything like them. Like my man, Elvis Presley – I was the Elvis of boxing.
-It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.
-Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.
-That all you got, George?
(What Ali whispered into George Foreman’s ear in a late round clinch during the Rumble in the Jungle.)
-It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.
-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.
-It’s not bragging if you can back it up.
-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.
-The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
-I’m a baaaadd man!
-If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
-Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest.
(Shouting at reporters who had dismissed him as a loudmouth and a fake before his fight with Sonny Liston.)
-I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.
-It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat people up.
-Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
-The man who has no imagination has no wings.
-Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God – and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me.
-What’s my name, fool? What’s my name?
(What Ali kept yelling while winning a 1967 decision against Ernie Terrell, who had insisted on calling him Cassius Clay.)
-I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.
(from Healing, a Journal of Tolerance and Understanding)