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"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Rumble, young man, rumble." - Ali,
before a fight with Sonny Liston in
"I'm king of the world! I'm pretty! I'm
a bad man! I shook up the world! I
shook up the world! I shook up the
world!" - Ali after beating Liston.
"I've wrestled with alligators, I've tussled with a
whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw
thunder in jail. You know I'm bad. Just last week, I
murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick.
I'm so mean, I make medicine sick." - After his match
against George Foreman, known as the Rumble in the
Jungle in 1974.
"All I can do is fight for truth and justice. I can't
save anybody. He's a science fiction character,
and I'm a real character." - Ali at a news
conference to announce a comic book in
which he beats Superman.
"What I suffered physically was worth what
I've accomplished in life. A man who is not
courageous enough to take risks will never
accomplish anything in life." - Ali at a news
conference on October 28, 1984.
"It's hard to be humble when
you're as great as I am." -
"Hey Floyd - I seen you! Someday I'm gonna
whup you! Don't you forget, I am the
greatest!" Ali to heavyweight champion Floyd
Patterson during the 1960 Olympic Games.
Muhammad Ali also spoke boldly against the
war in Vietnam and refused conscription into
the army. This is Ali's famous explanation of
why he refused to serve in the United States
"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go
ten thousand 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?" Ali, February, 17, 1966.
Muhammad Ali was thus convicted of draft
evasion, and the US government tried to send
him to prison. But the US Supreme Court later
overturned the charges. Muhammad Ali
praised God on hearing the news.
"I've done my celebrating already. I
said a prayer to Allah." Ali, June 28,
"They did what they thought was
right, and I did what I thought was
"People say I talk so slow today. That's no surprise. I
calculated I've taken 29,000 punches. But I earned
$57m and I saved half of it. So I took a few hard
knocks. Do you know how many black men are killed
every year by guns and knives without a penny to
their names? I may talk slow, but my mind is OK." -
Ali, January 20, 1984.
"Why are all the
Why ain't there
no black angels?"
- Ali at a church in
"My name is known
in Serbia, Pakistan,
Morocco. These are
countries that don't
follow the Kentucky
Derby." - Ali in a New
York Times interview,
"I am a Muslim and there is
nothing Islamic about killing
innocent people in Paris,
San Bernardino, or
anywhere else in the world.
True Muslims know that the
ruthless violence of so-
called Islamic Jihadists goes
against the very tenets of
our religion." - Ali, 2015.