Muhammad Ali quotes

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Muhammad Ali

Birthdate: 17. January 1942
Date of death: 3. June 2016

Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring.

Cassius Clay was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and began training as an amateur boxer when he was 12 years old. At age 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and turned professional later that year. At age 22 in 1964, he won the WBA, WBC, and lineal heavyweight titles from Sonny Liston in a big upset. Clay then converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay, which he called his "slave name", to Muhammad Ali. He set an example of racial pride for African Americans and resistance to white domination during the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1966 , Ali further antagonized the white establishment by refusing to be drafted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges, and stripped of his boxing titles. He successfully appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971, by which time he had not fought for nearly four years and thereby lost a period of peak performance as an athlete. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.

Ali is regarded as one of the leading heavyweight boxers of the 20th century. He remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion, having won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25 and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times. He was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC, and the third greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight; the "Fight of the Century", "Super Fight II", the "Thrilla in Manila" versus his rival Joe Frazier, and "The Rumble in the Jungle" versus George Foreman.

At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali thrived in and indeed craved the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. He was known for trash talking, and often freestyled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for his trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism, anticipating elements of rap and hip hop music. As a musician, Ali recorded two spoken word albums and a rhythm and blues song, and received two Grammy Award nominations. As an actor, he performed in several films and a Broadway musical. Additionally, Ali wrote two autobiographies, one during and one after his boxing career.

As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam and advocated their black separatist ideology. He later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam, practicing Sufism, and supporting racial integration, like his former mentor Malcolm X.

After retiring from boxing at age 39 in 1981, Ali devoted his life to religious and charitable work. In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome, which his doctors attributed to boxing-related brain injuries. As his condition worsened, Ali made limited public appearances and was cared for by his family until his death on June 3, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Works

„All through my life, I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

The Soul of a Butterfly, 2004
Variant: All through my life I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested.
Source: The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey

„This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
The most beautiful fighter in the world today.“

—  Muhammad Ali

"I am the Greatest" (1964) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZU_AvPPIQY
Context: This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
The most beautiful fighter in the world today.
He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
Of a muscular punch that's incredibly speed-y.
The fistic world was dull and weary,
But with a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary.
Then someone with color and someone with dash,
Brought fight fans a-runnin' with cash.
This brash young boxer is something to see
And the heavyweight championship is his destiny.

„If my mind can conceive it; and my heart can believe it — then I can achieve it.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Similar to a quote by Jesse Jackson, which is in turn a modification of a quote by Napoleon Hill: "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
Misattributed
Source: The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey

„I hated every minute of it. But I said to myself, 'Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.“

—  Muhammad Ali

On training, as quoted in "Ali: Born Again!" by Pete Axthelm and Peter Bonventre, Newsweek (25 September 1978)

„I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xix
Context: My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I am alive, I will continue to try to understand more because the work of the heart is never done. All through my life I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested. Every step of the way I believe that God has been with me. And, more than ever, I know that he is with me now. I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road. I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.

„I knew I had him in the first round.“

—  Muhammad Ali

After defeating Sonny Liston for the first time (25 February 1964) as quoted in Sound and Fury : Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship (2007) by Dave Kindred, p. 58
Variant transcription: I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I'm so great I don't have a mark on my face. I shook up the world.
As quoted in "When Clay shook up the world" (24 February 2004) http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/boxing/3516241.stm
Context: I knew I had him in the first round. Almighty God was with me. I want everyone to bear witness, I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I don't have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest. I showed the world. I talk to God everyday. I know the real God. I shook up the world, I'm the king of the world. You must listen to me. I am the greatest! I can't be beat!

„The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.“

—  Muhammad Ali

As quoted in Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties (1999) by Mike Marqusee<!-- p. 213 -->; also quoted in the International Socialist Review Issue 33 (January–February 2004) http://www.isreview.org/issues/33/muhammadali.shtml
Context: 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 in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.

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„When Cassius says a mouse can outrun a horse,
Don’t ask how; put your money where your mouse is!
I AM THE GREATEST!“

—  Muhammad Ali

"I am the Greatest" (1964)
Context: I am the man this poem’s about,
I’ll be champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt.
Here I predict Mr. Liston’s dismemberment,
I’ll hit him so hard; he’ll wonder where October and November went.
When I say two, there’s never a third,
Standin against me is completely absurd.
When Cassius says a mouse can outrun a horse,
Don’t ask how; put your money where your mouse is!
I AM THE GREATEST!

„Wouldn't it be a beautiful world if just 10 percent of the people who believe in the power of love would compete with one another to see who could do the most good for the most people?“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xxiii
Context: Wouldn't it be a beautiful world if just 10 percent of the people who believe in the power of love would compete with one another to see who could do the most good for the most people? So many of us enjoy taking part in competitions, why not hold a competition of love instead of one that leads to jealousy and envy? If we continue to think and live as if we belong only to different cultures and different religions, with separate missions and goals, we will always be in self-defeating competition with each other.

„If you love God, you can't love only some of his children.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xvii
Context: We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names, but they all contain water. So do religions have different names, and they all contain truth, expressed in different ways forms and times. It doesn't matter whether you're a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family. If you love God, you can't love only some of his children.

„In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xxiv
Context: Once we realize we are all members of humanity, we will want to compete in the spirit of love.
In a competition of love we would not be running against one another, but with one another. We would be trying to gain victory for all humanity. If I am a faster runner than you, you may feel bad seeing me pass you in the race, but if you know that we are both racing to make our world better, you will feel good knowing that we are racing toward a common goal, a mutual reward.
In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.

„Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xvi
Context: Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved. Religion and spirituality are very different, but people often confuse the two. Some things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart. Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.

„We all have the same God, we just serve him differently.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xvii
Context: We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names, but they all contain water. So do religions have different names, and they all contain truth, expressed in different ways forms and times. It doesn't matter whether you're a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family. If you love God, you can't love only some of his children.

„Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther he'll end up in a ringside seat.“

—  Muhammad Ali

Poem composed prior to his match with Sonny Liston, in 1963, as quoted in "Brash Clay waxed poetic in 1963 visit to Nashville" by Bill Traughber in Nashville's The CIty Paper (4 June 2002)
Variant transcription: Who would have thought, when they came to the fight,
that they'd witness a launchin' of a black satellite.
Context: Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther he'll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius carry the fight
Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room,
It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
Now Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing,
And the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring.
Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can't start counting till Sonny goes down.
Now Liston is disappearing from view, the crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up, somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite.
Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

„My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I am alive, I will continue to try to understand more because the work of the heart is never done.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xix
Context: My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I am alive, I will continue to try to understand more because the work of the heart is never done. All through my life I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested. Every step of the way I believe that God has been with me. And, more than ever, I know that he is with me now. I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road. I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.

„Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xvi
Context: Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved. Religion and spirituality are very different, but people often confuse the two. Some things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart. Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.

„Once we realize we are all members of humanity, we will want to compete in the spirit of love.“

—  Muhammad Ali, book The Soul of a Butterfly

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004), p. xxiv
Context: Once we realize we are all members of humanity, we will want to compete in the spirit of love.
In a competition of love we would not be running against one another, but with one another. We would be trying to gain victory for all humanity. If I am a faster runner than you, you may feel bad seeing me pass you in the race, but if you know that we are both racing to make our world better, you will feel good knowing that we are racing toward a common goal, a mutual reward.
In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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