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Muhammad Ali: the Greatest quotes

Following his sad death, the most eloquent and outspoken sportsman of all time in his own words

Published: Saturday, 4th June 2016 at 8:48 am

Muhammad Ali – poet, protestor, preacher, and the greatest boxer who ever lived – has passed away aged 74, following a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.


In his prime, Ali was arguably the most eloquent and outspoken sports person of all time. Here are some of his funniest, wisest and most inspiring quotes…

The Greatest

"I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest."

"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."

"When will they ever have another fighter who writes poems, predicts rounds, beats everybody, makes people laugh, makes people cry, and is as tall and extra pretty as me? In the history of the world and from the beginning of time, there’s never been another fighter like me. Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest."

"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’m No 1. After me, it don’t matter."


"God’s got me here for something. I can feel it. I was born for everything that I’m doing now."

"I’d rather be punished here in this life than the hereafter."

"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.'"

War and peace

"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 n****r."

"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."


"Life is short; we get old so fast. It doesn’t make sense to waste time on hating."


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