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Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, was my boyhood sports hero and even though that was many years ago, even today, Ali remains my favourite spots star of all time. Ali had fast hands and fast feet, but the man known as The Louisville Lip had an even faster brain and his speed of thought brought many great quotes from the lightning quick mouth of the American boxer who liked to be called The Greatest.

Ali’s most famous quote of all was made in 1964 prior to his first world title fight against champion Sonny Liston when Ali gave his tactics for the fight in poetic form.

”Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

Ali won the fight when Liston failed to come out for the seventh round and the Louisville Lip was the boxing heavyweight champion of the world. Ali’s famous quote had come true but The Greatest went on to make many more great quotes about boxing, religion and life.

Here’s my list of some of the best Muhammad Ali quotes.

Boxing Quotes

“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.”

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

“It will be a killer, and a chiller, and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manila.” – Ali in the build up to his Thrilla in Manila fight against Joe Frazier in 1975.

“Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.”

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

“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.”

“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.” – Ali’s words after tasting defeat against Ken Norton in 1973.

“I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”

Religion & Colour Quotes

“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.”

“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

Life Quotes

“Wisdom is knowing when you can’t be wise.”

“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.”

”A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali – A Legend Speaks and the World Listens.

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

I’ve left one of the best Muhammad Ali quotes to last. Have a think about this one and see if it makes you feel good.

“If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”

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