When a personality dies it’s standard journalist practice to do a ‘best quotes’ article – but Muhammad Ali puts everyone else’s quotes in the shade and truly earned our attention.
He lived life as if one day he knew people across the world would be remembering his best quotes with a wry smile. So much of his personality was based around his, completely deserved, bravado. A lot of that bravado was communicated through his fists in the ring – but he also spoke fluently and powerfully outside of the ring.
Ali’s quotes made him famous, and he knew it. He even released an album of poetic trash talk in 1963 unashamedly called I Am The Greatest.
It was a pretty bold statement because he released it six months before he won the world heavyweight championship. 1963 was also before he converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay, as he said at the time; “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.”
The man was a true inspiration and his words deserve attention – we defy you not to read these quotes and not feel empowered:
Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
Don’t count the days; make the days count.
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.
If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it — then I can achieve it.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
The man with no imagination has no wings.
Live every day like it’s your last because someday you’re going to be right.
When he wasn’t being an inspiration he was putting down the competition, his trash talk was legendary – hardly surprising as he arguably invented the whole concept:
If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.
I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.
I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale, I done handcuffed lightning, And throw thunder in jail. Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick.
You been hearing about how bad I am since you were a little kid with mess in your pants! Tonight, I’m gonna whip you till you cry like a baby.
I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
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.
Here’s a compliation of the man himself engaging in some world class trash talk:
But never forget:
It’s not bragging if you can back it up.
Float like a butterfly is possibly his most famous quote, but do you know the second part of his rhyming put-down?
Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit, what your eyes can’t see.
Muhammad Ali may be gone, but his words will live forever.