The HyperTexts

The Best Muhammad Ali Poems, Songs, Epigrams, Quotes, Anecdotes, Nicknames and Trivia

This is a collection of the best poetry, prose, quotes and epigrams by Muhammad Ali that I have been able to find. I have also included two poems that I wrote as tributes to the great man: "Ali's Song" and "For Ali, Fighting Time." Some of Ali's poems, to my knowledge, have not been reproduced in the correct original form anywhere else on the Internet. I went back to videotapes of Ali reciting the poems himself and transcribed them to correct glaring errors I found elsewhere. Two good examples of such transcribed poems are the ones I have titled "Confidence Man" and "Smokin' Joe." If you want to read Ali's best poems as he recited them himself, I think you've found the right webpage. I have also included a selection of Muhammad Ali quotes, epigrams, anecdotes, nicknames and trivia. My favorite Ali anecdote is the one about Chuck Wepner and the powder blue negligee he gave his wife for the night of the gore-fest that inspired Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies. Her teasing response is priceless! The section on Ali's quick-witted repartee with interviewers like Howard Cosell, Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas contains more priceless moments.

Ali was many things to many people: a superstar athlete, a worldwide celebrity, a cross-cultural icon, a lightning rod for attention and controversy, a poet, a philosopher, a prophet, a human rights advocate, a champion of peace and nonviolence (outside the ring, at least), a humorist and a provocateur. He was also, at times, a bit of a ham, clown, conman and shaman. And he may have been the best promoter since P. T. Barnum, making himself and his opponents richer than kings. To his detractors, Ali was a coward, a traitor, a philanderer, an arrogant braggart and/or a pariah. But whatever Ali was or wasn't, he was always original and never boring! And most of the men he beat in the ring expressed real respect and admiration for him, sometimes even love.

compiled by Michael R. Burch, editor of The HyperTexts

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see.
Muhammad Ali

The two lines above are the most famous Muhammad Ali poem; it's probably the most famous poem in sports history. There are different versions, as this famous epigram was adapted for various fights. Maya Angelou, perhaps the most famous living American poet, said of Ali's poetic creation: "As a poet, I like that. If he hadn't put his name on it, I might have chosen to use that!"

I've wrestled with alligators.
I've tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning.
And throw'd thunder in jail.
—Muhammad Ali

The four lines above comprise my favorite Muhammad Ali poem. I think this is outstanding poetry in anyone's book.

I shook up the world!
—Muhammad Ali, after defeating the seemingly invincible Sonny Liston; and indeed he did!

It's just a job.
Grass grows,
birds fly,
waves pound the sand.
I beat people up.
Muhammad Ali, describing himself as a sort of inevitable natural force in free verse

—Muhammad Ali, describing himself in a rhymed tercet

Ali is attended by Angelo Dundee before his first fight with Cooper, and The Greatest was indebted to his wily cornerman at Wembley

Muhammad Ali was big, black, beautiful, bold, brash and bad (as in "badass"). He was the white supremacists' worst nightmare, being proof positive that they were not "superior" but just whistling Dixie ... way out of time and badly out of tune.

Here's how George Foreman described Muhammad Ali: "Muhammad Ali―I can describe him best―was beautiful ... To be honest with you, he belonged to the arts. He had poetry. He had it all ... [In the ring] he had a will like I've never seen."

I'm not conceited. I'm convinced.
—Muhammad Ali

Most of his opponents ended up convinced as well. George Foreman later admitted that he only pretended to want a rematch with Ali. In reality, he preferred not to face that iron will and those lightning-fast, thunderous jabs again. While Sonny Liston did fight Ali twice, in the second match he went to the canvas in the first round after a "phantom" punch, and was accused of not wanting to continue. So the two "invincible" fighters who faced Ali seemed to think one fight with him was more than enough.

As his longtime trainer Angelo Dundee said, "He was a unique, special human being. There'll never be another Muhammad Ali."

At the end even Ali's greatest adversary, Joe Frazier, said "He's a great guy" with tears in his eyes and said he was praying for Ali every day.

Confidence Man

I hear a lot of talk about old-time great fighters; I hear people say that

Joe Lewis,
Jack Dempsey,
Jack Johnson,
Joe Jeffries
and all of them

would have annihilated the likes of myself, Muhammad Ali.

After watching these films,
watching their opponents,
watching their styles,
watching how they fought,
watching their footwork and their speed

and my critics will admit that I am the fastest heavyweight in the history of boxing with feet and hands),
it may come as a shock to you, but I say that I would have beat every heavyweight that ever lived before me.
Muhammad Ali


The best Muhammad Ali nicknames: The Greatest (coined by Ali himself), The Champ, The People's Champion, The Louisville Slugger, The Louisville Lip, The Lullable Lip, Gaseous Cassius, Cassius X (his first name change, when he was in contact with Malcolm X), Boxing's Poet Laureate, The Black Superman, The Black Adonis, The Prettiest Man in Sports (Ali describing himself)

Muhammad means "praiseworthy," being derived from the Arabic hamid, "to praise." Ali in Arabic means "lofty," or "sublime." So Ali's chosen name means something like "One Who is Worthy of Sublime Praise!" And he did, indeed, praise himself sublimely, in both his poetry and his prose!

Asked in a 1975 Playboy interview why he chose "The Greatest," Ali replied: "I'm the most talked-about, most publicized, the most famous, and the most colorful fighter in history. And I'm the fastest heavyweight—with feet and hands—who ever lived. Besides that, I'm the onliest poet laureate boxing's ever had. One other thing, too: If you look at pictures of all the former champions you know in a flash that I'm the best-looking champion in history. It all adds up to being The Greatest, don't it?"

Nicknames that Ali gave to other boxers: George Foreman "The Mummy," Joe Frazier "The Gorilla," Sonny Liston "The Big Ugly Bear," Oscar Bonavena "The Beast," Floyd Patterson "The Rabbit" and "The White Man's Champion," Ernie Terrell "The Octopus" (because of his ungainly boxing style), Buster Mathis Sr. "The Dancing Hippo" (ditto), Ernie Shavers "The Acorn" (because of his shaved head), Larry Holmes "The Peanut" (because of the shape of his head), George Chuvalo "The Washer Woman," Henry Cooper "a Tramp, a Bum and a Cripple not worth training for," Leon Spinks "Dracula" (because of the gap in his teeth) and Richard Dunn "The Mummy." Ali called several boxers "bums" and "Uncle Toms" for not standing up to white domination and/or not calling him by his chosen name, including Frazier, Patterson and Terrell.

Ali's fights even earned poetic nicknames: "The Thrilla in Manilla" and "The Rumble in the Jungle" are the two most famous and became the stuff of legend, thanks to Ali. 


Seven Ways that Ali Excelled

(1) Ali has been named the number one athlete of all time in a number of rankings.
(2) Ali has been named the greatest boxer of all time in a number of rankings.
(3) Ali has been named the best-known sports figure of all time in a number of rankings.
(4) Ali embodies and exemplifies "black is beautiful" for millions of people, if not billions.
(5) Ali is the best-known conscientious objector of all time.
(6) Ali is the best-known poet among sports figures. No one else comes close.
(7) Ali is one of the best-known celebrities of all time, rivaled only by icons like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. 

Sports figures influenced by Ali's swag include: Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Deion Sanders, The Rock, Wayne Gretzky (his nickname "The Great One" was rather obviously derived from Ali's "The Greatest" although, unlike Ali, Gretzky did not coin his own nickname).

Cassius Marcellus Clay changed his "slave name" to Muhammad Ali in 1964.

Ali actually recorded an album of spoken verse, and was nominated for a Grammy! Thus the loquacious Ali really was boxing's poet laureate. Columbia Records released a 1963 spoken word album titled I Am the Greatest, in which the 21-year-old rising star performed his poetry, backed my musical accompaniment, before an audience. The title track was released as a single. The second track was "I Am the Double Greatest." The album also included two songs by the boxer, including a cover of the Ben E. King hit “Stand by Me.” The other song was "a bright, bubblegum pop" rendition of "The Gang's All Here" with Sam Cooke (who rivaled Ali in good lucks, talent and charm). Ali's album peaked at No. 61 on the Top LP's chart in 1963 (which later became known as the Billboard 200). The album was nominated for a Grammy in 1964. The Milwaukee Journal dubbed it the "comedy album of the year."

To this nation, I've made this bequest
So spread the word north and south!
Some folks leave their brains through science
But when I go, I'm leavin' my mouth!
It's the greatest!
—Muhammad Ali, on "Round Seven" of his album

But that wasn't quite it for Ali's musical career. In 1976, Ali teamed with Frank Sinatra, Ossie Davis, Howard Cosell and others to record an album called Ali and His Gang Vs. Mr. Tooth Decay. The cautionary tale against eating too much sugar was nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording for Children in 1977. So Ali was nominated for two Grammy awards!

Ali starred in a Broadway musical, so he was also an actor and singer. During his 43-month forced exile from the ring, Ali took to the stage in the title role of the musical Buck White. The production opened inside New York's George Abbott Theatre on December 2, 1969. However, Ali's stage career would be a brief one. Buck White closed four nights later after just seven performances. In spite of the limited run, Ali, who played a militant black lecturer, received decent reviews. “He sings with a pleasant slightly impersonal voice, acts without embarrassment and moves with innate dignity,” wrote a New York Times reviewer. “He does himself proud.”

Ali appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine in April 1968, posed by designer George Lois as the Christian martyr Saint Sebastian. So he was also a supermodel!

Other things you may not know about Muhammad Ali: (1) He was an accomplished magician. (2) He became a Sufi like the mystical poets Rumi and Hafiz; the Sufis believe in and practice nonviolence. (3) Ali was a tough guy: he fought his first comeback fight with a broken rib and continued to fight Ken Norton despite having broken his jaw during the match. (4) He had a magnetic personality; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar compared Ali moving through a crowd to a magnet moving through iron filings. (5) People have described Ali as "glowing." Other famous people said to have glowed include Moses and Albert Einstein. (6) Some of Ali's opponents were in awe of him: for instance, George Foreman speaks about him with real reverence. (7) Ali changed his name twice; his first non-slave name was Cassius X, which was modeled after Malcolm X. (8) Ali never turned down children's requests for autographs because as a boy he was turned down by Sugar Ray Robinson. (9) Ali frequently re-used his favorite rhymes. For instance, there are different versions of the me/whee rhyme:

This poem tells how it feels to be as great as me.
This is it, the greatest short poem of all time: me!
—Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali: the Beginnings and Makings of a Poet

Muhammad Ali (1942–2016) was an American professional boxer widely regarded as one of the greatest and most significant sporting figures in history—if not the greatest, as he claimed himself. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942. He began training as a boxer at age 12 after his bike was stolen and he wanted to "whup" the thief. At age 18, he won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome, writing a poem about his exploits. I have bolded the rhymes:

To make America the greatest is my goal
So I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole
And for the USA won the medal of gold.
The Greeks said you're better than the Cassius of old.

We like your name, we like your game.
So make Rome your home if you will.
I said I appreciate your kind hospitality,
But the USA is my country still,
'Cause they're waiting to welcome me in Louisville.
Muhammad Ali

I'm not going to compare the young Cassius Clay to T. S. Eliot, but the poem does have elements of modern free verse; for instance, lines 5-6 introduce internal rhymes, line 7 breaks the pattern of end rhyme, there is an extra line in the second stanza, and the line lengths and number of syllables vary throughout the poem without any glaring metrical glitches. For a humorous poem written by an 18-year-old not known for being a great scholar, it's actually pretty good. One might say that the gifted young boxer was rapping long before it came into vogue.

Ali later said that he threw his medal into the Ohio river after being denied service due to racism: something I address in my poem "Ali's Song" ...

Ali's Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don't tarnish. It ain't so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a spade a spade.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.

Ain't got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me nigger, did me wrong.
A man can't be lukewarm, 'cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here's your bullet and your gun,
and there's your cell: we're waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—Bold.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Note: Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam and changed his “slave name” to Muhammad Ali, said that he threw his Olympic boxing gold medal into the Ohio River. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep, and the Ali family paid them $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. When drafted during the Vietnamese War, Ali refused to serve, reputedly saying: “I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a nigger.” The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. I was told through the grapevine that this poem appeared in Farsi in an Iranian publication called Bashgah. The poem was originally published by the literary journal Black Medina.

Ali looks at himself in the mirror and told anyone who would listen that the was both handsome and pretty 

Ali admiring himself in the mirror.

After turning professional, Clay won six fights in six months. Then in 1961, on a Las Vegas radio show to promote his seventh contest, he met the wrestler “Gorgeous” George Wagner, whose promotional skills got audiences excited. As Ali later told his biographer Thomas Hauser: “[George] started shouting: ‘If this bum beats me I'll crawl across the ring and cut off my hair, but it's not gonna happen because I'm the greatest fighter in the world.' And all the time, I was saying to myself: ‘Man. I want to see this fight' And the whole place was sold out when Gorgeous George wrestled … including me … and that's when I decided if I talked more, there was no telling how much people would pay to see me.” Ali, who was also rather gorgeous, became his own promoter:

I've wrestled with alligators.
I've tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning.
And throwd thunder in jail.
Muhammad Ali

Those are strong, memorable lines that many modern rappers and performance poets would be very happy with. Clay definitely had a way with words and wasn't shy about using them to increase ticket sales and his earnings. White America had never seen anyone like this cocksure young black man who confidently announced that he was fast, handsome, pretty, dangerous and far too good to be beaten. What Elvis Presley was to popular music, Cassius Clay was to boxing, except that Elvis only sounded black, while Clay was black!

Clay also had a nice touch with light verse, or rhyming humor. For instance, here's a poem he created for a 1969 TV show that he did with Joe Namath and Michael Parkinson:

I like your show
and I like your style,
but your pay's so bad
I won't be back for a while!
Muhammad Ali

Ali also mentioned to Joe Namath that he had a "nice time" beating everyone up and taking the world title!

In 1961, Clay explained to reporters how he was different from other boxers: "Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody." He began "calling" the rounds in which he would knock out his opponents, then bragged about his prophetic powers in this 1962 poem:

Everyone knew when I stepped in town,
I was the greatest fighter around.
A lot of people called me a clown,
But I am the one who called the round.
The people came to see a great fight,
But all I did was put out the light.
Never put your money against Cassius Clay,
For you will never have a lucky day.
Muhammad Ali

Ali's biographer David Remnick would later call him the master of "rhyming prediction and derision." He was "talking trash and doing it in verse." In 1962, Clay brashly predicted that he would knock out Archie Moore, the winner of over 180 professional fights, in the fourth round:

Muhammad Ali, written on a chalkboard in his dressing room before the fight

Archie's been living off the fat of the land.
I'm here to give him his pension plan.
When you come to the fight don't block the door.
'Cause you'll all go home after round four.
Muhammad Ali

Clay's prediction proved prophetic and he knocked out Moore in the fourth round. Clay then predicted he would knock out Henry Cooper in the fifth round of their 1963 fight, and once again proved prophetic.

If Cooper gives me jive,
I'll stop him in five.
If he gives me more,
I'll stop him in four.
Muhammad Ali

However, Cooper did manage to hit Ali with a perfectly-timed-and-leveraged left hook that lifted Clay off his feet and left him wondering where he was, and perhaps momentarily who he was. Fortunately for Clay and unfortunately for Cooper, the end-of-round ring sounded seconds after the haymaker landed. The ever-eloquent Clay later remarked: "The punch Cooper hit me with, he didn't just shake me. He shook my relations back in Africa!" However, Ali more than returned the favor, shedding so much of Cooper's blood that ringside photographers were bathed in the spray! Cooper later called the renamed Ali a "quick learner" because in their 1966 rematch Ali held him "like a vice" and never gave him a chance to get off one of his thunderous inside blows. Thus, Ali won the rematch without similar drama or damage.

Clay took bragging to new, extreme heights (or depths, depending on one's perspective): "I'm not the greatest. I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round. I'm the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest fighter in the ring today." And when his detractors accused him of arrogance, he had the perfect response:

It ain't bragging if you can back it up.
Muhammad Ali

Ali, whose wit was almost as fast as his hands, leans on the ropes as he poses for a picture in 1970

Muhammad Ali in his prime in 1970, waiting for a chance to reclaim his heavyweight title.

In 1964, at age 22, Cassius Clay prepared to meet world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in a title match. Liston was a 7-1 favorite. Clay was a brash underdog trying to make a name for himself. It was at this time that he produced his most famous rhyme:

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see.
Muhammad Ali

As Ali told Howard Cosell:

If you want to lose your money,
bet on Sonny!
Muhammad Ali

Here's a humorous Ali prediction about the Liston fight:

Now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing!
And the punch raises the Bear clear out of the ring.
Liston is still rising, and the ref wears a frown,
For he can't start counting till Sonny comes down.
Now Liston disappears from view; the crowd is getting frantic,
But our 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 lay down their money
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.
I am the greatest!
Muhammad Ali

Clay won the world heavyweight championship in a major upset. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the edge of the ring and, pointing at the ringside press, shouted:

Eat your words!
I am the greatest!
I shook up the world!
I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived!
I'm king of the world!
Muhammad Ali

When told by Joe Louis that Liston had retired due to a "left arm thrown out of its socket," the brash, ever-quick Clay quipped, "Yeah, swinging at nothing, who wouldn't!" 

Shortly thereafter, in 1964 the 22-year-old "king of the world" converted to Islam, changed his "slave" name to Muhammad Ali, and chose the twin path of pride in his race and resistance to white domination and injustices. He explained his name change in no uncertain terms: "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 they speak to me and of me." When Floyd Patterson refused to call him by his new name, Ali called him an "Uncle Tom" and mocked him mercilessly:

Patterson's body is suing his legs for non-support.
Muhammad Ali

When boxer Ernie Terrell refused to refer to him by his new name in a 1967 match, Ali beat him unmercifully, screaming "What's my name?"

I predict that Terrell
will catch hell
at the sound of the bell ...
Now I'm not sayin' this just to be funny,
but I'm fightin' Ernie because he needs the money.
Muhammad Ali

Ali's first major act of defiance, outside boxing, would be refusing to fight in Vietnam:

They ain't done me no wrong 
So I ain't got no fight
With them Vietcong!
Muhammad Ali

My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother,
or some darker people,
or some poor hungry people in the mud
for big powerful America.
And shoot them for what?
They never called me nigger,
they never lynched me,
they didn’t put no dogs on me,
they didn’t rob me of my nationality,
rape and kill my mother and father.
Shoot them for what?
How can I shoot them poor people?
Just take me to jail!
Muhammad Ali

In 1966, two years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali further antagonized the white establishment by refusing to be conscripted 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 and stripped of his boxing titles. But he remained unbowed:

I am America.
I am the part you won't recognize.
But get used to me:
Black, confident, cocky.
My name, not yours.
My religion, not yours.
My goals, my own.
Get used to me.
Muhammad Ali

Ali would not fight for four years, while appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which finally overturned his conviction in 1971. His actions as a conscientious objector made Ali an icon of the counterculture generation. When asked if he missed boxing, Ali deadpanned, "No, they miss me." But as Bill Siegel, creator of the documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali pointed out, Ali was "willing to sacrifice everything on principle." And in the prime of his career, when he could have been making millions of dollars, he was almost broke, as he confided while accepting a few hundred dollars to appear at a Louisville boat show. But if he was losing on the money front, he was gaining in stature. Ali said himself, "They made me bigger by taking my title." He became a leading voice of the civil rights and anti-war movements. He was black, he was defiant, and ultimately he was right.

"His biggest win came not in the ring but in our courts in his fight for his beliefs," said Eric Holder, a former U.S. attorney general who knows something about those courts.

Ali also inspired other black athletes to take stands. Arthur Ashe said: "I believe that, if Ali hadn’t done what he did, Harry Edwards wouldn’t have gotten a fraction of the support he got in 1968 to boycott the Mexico City Olympics. Tommie Smith and John Carlos wouldn’t have raised their fists. Ali had to be on their minds. He was largely responsible for it becoming an expected part of the black athlete’s responsibility to get involved. He had more at stake than any of us. He put it all on the line for what he believed in. And if Ali did that, who were the rest of us lesser athlete mortals not to do it? I know he certainly influenced me later in 1967 when the Davis Cup draw came up and lo and behold, the United States was supposed to meet in South Africa in the third round. ... There’s no question that Ali’s sacrifice was in the forefront of my mind."

Ali returned to the ring in 1970, meeting and defeating Jerry Quarry, who had been called "The Great White Hope." The fight was held in Atlanta and attracted not so much boxing fans as "idolators." Black pride and black money were on display. “It was a coronation; the king regaining his throne,” Julian Bond said in Muhammad Ali, His Life and Times. “You had all these people from the fast lane who were there; and the style of dress was fantastic. Men in ankle-length fur coats; women wearing smiles and pearls and not much else.”

Ali then fought the hard-hitting Oscar Bonavena in Madison Square Garden, also in 1970. Bonavena was nicknamed "The Bull" and had twice gone the distance with Joe Frazier, knocking him down twice. Before the fight, Bonavena called Ali a "chicken" for not joining the army, a "black kangaroo" and suggested that he was a homosexual with hygiene issues. Ali retorted:

I've never wanted to whup a man so bad.
I'm gonna put some soul on his head.
I tell you that the Beast is mine.
And tonight he falls in nine.
Muhammad Ali

That prediction did not come to pass, as Ali explained himself: "Funny, when I was predictin' the ninth round, I never thought I came close to predictin' on myself. I made a lot of mistakes in that fight, and it cost me. I got careless with him in the ninth round, and you can't do that with Oscar. In that ninth round I got hit by a hook harder than Frazier could ever throw. Numb! Like I was numb all over. Shock and vibrations is all I felt, that's how I knew I was alive. I mean, I was jarred. Even my toes felt the vibrations. The first thought that came to mind—another good one or two might have dropped me. So the minute I'm hit—two steps backwards and I'm on the other side of the ring."

Ali would come back to knock Bonavena down three times in the fifteenth round, winning by a TKO due to the three-knockdown rule. But Bonavena was clearly finished anyway. It was the only time Bonavena was knocked out in 68 professional fights which included top-flight opponents like Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Jimmy Ellis, Ron Lyle, George Chuvalo, Karl Mildenberger and Zora Folley. After the fight, Ali grabbed a microphone and shouted: "I have done what Joe Frazier couldn't doknocked out Oscar Bonavena. Now where is he? I want Joe Frazier!"

Ali then fought Joe Frazier for the heavyweight championship in Madison Square Garden, in 1971. Before the fight, Ali riffed on Smokin' Joe Frazier's nickname:

Smokin' Joe

Joe's gonna come out smokin',
But I ain't gonna be jokin'.
I'll be peckin' and a-pokin',
Pourin' water on his smokin'.
Now, this may shock and amaze ya,
But I will destroy Joe Frazier!
Muhammad Ali

Frazier won a hard-fought unanimous decision in what was billed as the "Fight of the Century" between two undefeated heavyweights. (It was the first time that two undefeated boxers had fought each other for the heavyweight title.) The fight lived up to its hype and is generally considered to be one of the greatest boxing matches of all time. The referee, Arthur Mercante, said that he "couldn't imagine ever being involved in anything bigger" and had goosepimples when he climbed into the ring. The fight had a record purse of $5 million, divided equally between the two boxers. How big was the fight, really? Well, when Frank Sinatra couldn't land ringside seats he agreed to take photos for Life Magazine!

Ali would win two rematches and end with a 2-1 record against Frazier. Newsday called it a "brutal trilogy" and "with the possible exception of David vs. Goliath, the greatest rivalry in the history of individual human combat."

I'm gonna be so fast, Frazier's gonna think he's surrounded.
Muhammad Ali

Ali, perhaps because he was Ali and a lightning rod for attention, was involved in three of the greatest boxing matches of all time: the first fight with Frazier, the third fight with Frazier (the tie-breaking "Thrilla in Manila), and the epic "Rumble in the Jungle" in which Ali used his "rope-a-dope" technique to defeat the heavily favored George Foreman and regain the heavyweight title after seven long, frustrating years. Ali-Frazier I and III were each were named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring. In 1996, The Ring named Ali-Frazier III the No. 1 fight in boxing history. Ali later said that the third Frazier fight "was the closest thing to dying that I know." When asked if he had watched a replay of the fight, Ali reportedly asked rhetorically, "Why would I want to go back and see Hell?" And after years of mocking Frazier as an "Uncle Tom" and a "Gorilla," Ali named him "the greatest fighter of all times, next to me."

It will be a killa
And a chilla
And a thrilla
When I get the gorilla
In Manila!
Muhammad Ali

You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?
Wait 'til I whup George Foreman's behind.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
His hand can't hit what his eyes can't see.
Now you see me, now you don't.
George thinks he will, but I know he won't.
I done wrassled with an alligator,
I done tussled with a whale.
Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick.
I'm so mean, I make medicine sick.
Muhammad Ali

I've seen George Foreman shadow boxing. And the shadow won.
Muhammad Ali

After decisively beating the seemingly invincible Foreman, the self-acclaimed "greatest boxer of all time time" decided to give a title shot to a real-life Rocky named Chuck Wepner ...

I am boxing. He's challenging boxing.
Muhammad Ali, at the Chuck Wepner weigh-in

The gory 1975 Ali-Wepner fight became the basis of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies, with Ali portrayed as Apollo Creed and Stallone playing the Wepner-ish Rocky Balboa. Wepner, known as "The Bayonne Bleeder," put up a valiant fight and even knocked Ali down in the ninth round, although Ali claimed that he tripped after Wepner stepped on his foot. After knocking Ali down, Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, "Al, start the car. We're going to the bank. We are millionaires." To which Wepner's manager replied, "You better turn around. He's getting up and he looks pissed off." Ali came back to knock out Wepner in the fifteenth round. It was the only time in over 100 career fights, amateur and professional, the Wepner was ever been knocked down.

Wepner later called the fight the greatest night of his life, remarking: "I was ready for Ali, I just wasn't ready for how great he was." Wepner also admitted that Ali was off balance when he knocked him down with a body punch. Years later in an interview Wepner said he had "tremendous respect" for Ali and thanked him for giving him a title match. He also related an amusing story. The day of the fight he had given his wife a powder blue negligee, asking her to wear it because that night she would be sleeping with the heavyweight champion of the world. After the fight when Wepner returned to his hotel room, sure enough, there was his wife sitting on the side of the bed in the powder blue negligee. "Is Ali coming here, or am I going to his room?" she asked mischeviously.

Ali was more than just another pretty face. He was more than a rare combination of speed, agility, grace and power. He was also a very, very tough guy. In 1973, in a match with Ken Norton, he fought ten rounds with a broken jaw. George Foreman, perhaps the most devastating power puncher in boxing history, remembered losing heart when he hit Ali smack on the jaw with everything he had, and Ali just whispered back, "George, is that all you got?"

John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Ali said something similar about himself: "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."

Time took its toll and Ali retired from boxing in 1981, no longer the king of the ring, but still the king of millions of hearts. Ali was the greatest boxer of his era, if not of all time. He was, by far, boxing's greatest showman and its greatest star. And he was a worldwide voice for equality for people with darker skin. Ali proclaimed himself "The Greatest" at a time when African Americans were expected to ride at the back of the bus meekly and submissively. But Ali did not submit meekly or submissively to anyone. When he was accused of arrogance, he pointed out that "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." And he did so, splendidly, with charisma, class and a rather brash but engaging charm.

"I shook up the world.
Muhammad Ali

Of course good health and good times never last forever. The poundings Ali took in the ring, in large part due to his iron chin and ability to absorb punishment, eventually caught up with him ...

Better... in the clutch of some disease, 
Wastin' slowly by degrees, 
Better than of heart attack...
Let me die by being black.
—Muhammad Ali, from "Freedom" (the entire poem appears later on this page)

Ali, who won the gold medal in Rome in 1960, lights the Olympic flame ahead of the Games in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 

Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic flame at the 1996 Atlanta games.

Muhammad Ali, the self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time, died on June 3, 2016 after the hardest battle of his life, with Parkinson's disease. Many of us who may have been doubters at one time are now happy to agree with his assessment of himself. For accomplishments in the ring, there may be a few worthy contenders like Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. But no star ever shone brighter than Ali's, inside the ring and out. No other boxer helped to change his sport and the larger world the way Ali did when he changed his name, refused to serve in what he saw as an unjust war that was none of his business, and stood up to the white establishment. In baseball there was only one Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat. In hockey there was only one Wayne Gretzky, the Great One. In soccer there was only one Pele. In rock'n'roll there was only one Elvis Presley, the King. And in boxing there was only one Muhammad Ali, The Greatest. If I was asked to name the greatest sports figure of all time, I would have to tip my cap to Ali and admit that he really was the greatest. Second place is not even close, if we consider Ali's uniqueness as a transformational and transcendent world figure and his ambassadorship.

Note: After I wrote the introduction above, I went for a walk. It was a sunny day, but as I walked I felt a shadow and looked up to see a majestic bald eagle flying immediately overhead. The bald eagle is, of course, a symbol of the United States, and I thought of Ali's influence. Was it a synchronicity, or just a coincidence? I will take it as the former, and salute a great spirit wherever he may be bound. I was reminded of the epitaph Jeff Powell said that Ali chose for himself in their last meeting:

Float like a butterfly
Sting like a bee 
If you wanna fly high
Remember me!
Muhammad Ali

For Ali, Fighting Time
by Michael R. Burch

So now your speech is not as clear . . .
time took its toll each telling year . . .
and O how tragic that your art,
so brutal, broke your savage heart.

But we who cheered each blow that fell
within that ring of torrent hell
never dreamed to see you maimed,
bowed and bloodied, listless, tamed.

For you were not as other men
as we cheered and cursed you then;
no, you commanded dreams and time—
blackgold Adonis, bold, sublime.

And once your glory leapt like fire—
pure and potent. No desire
ever burned as fierce or bright.
Oh Ali, Ali . . . win this fight!

Muhammad Ali Quotes and Epigrams


Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Can I dance? Is the Pope a Catholic?
Man, I'm so fast that when I switch off the light by the door I'm in bed before the room goes dark.
However, "the will must be stronger than the skill."
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.

The Ali "dance" was the famous dizzying and mesmerizing "Ali shuffle," followed up by the best jab in boxing history. Ali was simultaneously too fast, too elusive and too powerful for his competitors. He would "lean back" and dance away from danger, making it hard for his opponents to hit him. He would then step in and plant them with those iron-hard jabs. Ali was "the heavyweight Sugar Ray Robinson."


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.
It's not bragging if you can back it up.
Braggin' is when a person says something and can't do it. I do what I say.
It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am.
I'm not the greatest. I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round.
Superman don't need no seat belt.
It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.
I'm young; I'm handsome; I'm fast. I can't possibly be beat.
When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.
At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far.
I'm so mean, I make medicine sick.
I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked.
The man to beat me hasn't been born yet.
I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.
If Joe Frazier dreamed he could whip me, he better wake up and apologize!
I don't say we shall overcome, because I done overcame!
I never said I was the smartest. I said I was the greatest!

Rhyming Humor

If you like to lose your money, be a fool and bet on Sonny.
Ali fights great, he has speed and endurance. If you decide to fight him, increase your insurance.
I am the man all over the land, And if you don't believe it, just interfere with my plan.
No doubts! How can I lose with the stuff I use?


Don't count the days; make the days count.
There are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.
Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.


I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.
I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.
Why is Jesus white ... what happened to all the black angels?
It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.
I don't believe in turning the other cheek.

Race, Tolerance and Social Justice

Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.
I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free.

Dreams, Vision and Imagination

The man who has no imagination has no wings.
A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

Ali, the Quick-Witted Master of Verbal Repartee

A woman in the audience asked Ali if he would ever fight in a nation that had an "unattractive" attitude to the "black man."
Ali: "Oh, like America?"

Dick Cavett: You make fun of the color of my skin.
Ali: No, I just tell you that you have the complexion and the connection to get the protection.

Ali, who always seemed to win his verbal sparring matches with Dick Cavett, once told him: "I'm a good fighter, and I'm as good as your writer!"

On the Dick Cavett Show, Ali was asked why he insulted his opponents. "The Garden's sold out, that's why!" he replied.

During an interview, Howard Cosell said that Ali had alienated "nation after nation" with his braggadocio and was just a "shell" of his former self.
Ali responded that every time Howard spoke, he should be "arrested for air pollution." He then closed the deal by informing Cosell, "I'm prettier than you, and you're a sports announcer!"

Howard Cosell: I'm not sure there's anyone left for you to fight.
Ali: You!

A man in the audience: Is Howard Cosell your friend?
Ali: Next question!

Howard Cosell: You're being very truculent.
Ali: Whatever truculent means, if it's good, I'm that!

Ali even took jabs at Cosell while speaking at Harvard: "Howard wanted to be a boxer but they couldn't find a mouthpiece big enough!"

On the Mike Douglas Show, after Douglas "agitated" Ali by pointing out that Chuck Wepner had called him Cassius Clay, Ali retorted: "Howard Cosell gets paid to be an idiot. What's your excuse?"

During an interview, Ali told Dick Cavett, "If I had a lower IQ, I could enjoy this conversation!"

Dick Cavett: He preaches against materialism, but he has a Rolls Royce in his garage, a Cadillac, a new Lincoln ...
Ali: No, TWO Rolls Royces!

Michael Jackson: Do you think I could ever float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?
Ali: Well, you've got the butterfly part down!

Ali: No television (here). I go to the kitchen to watch television.
Dick Cavett: Who do you watch?
Ali: Johnny Carson.
(Cavett pretends to faint.)

Dick Cavett: You can't put down George Foreman like that!
Ali: I did put him down! 

Dick Cavett: I'm not going to argue with you.
Ali (arching his eyebrows): You're not as dumb as you look!

Ali, responding to complaints about ring conditions in the Foreman fight: "As hard as his head hit the floor, he should be glad the canvas was soft!"

When a boy in the audience asked Ali's prediction for his next fight, Ali responded: "I'll be there."

Dick Cavett: What happens if you lose?
Ali: Next question!


If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.
My toughest fight was with my first wife.
My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world. No one knows what to say in the loser's locker room.
Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer.

Ali also wrote serious poems. He called this one a "masterpiece" ...

The Truth

The face of truth is open,
The eyes of truth are bright,
The lips of truth are ever closed,
The head of truth is upright.

The breast of truth stands forward,
The gaze of truth is straight,
Truth has neither fear nor doubt,
Truth has patience to wait.

The words of truth are touching,
The voice of truth is deep,
The law of truth is simple:
All that you sow you reap.

The soul of truth is flaming,
The heart of truth is warm,
The mind of truth is clear,
And firm through rain or storm.

Facts are but its shadows,
Truth stands above all sin;
Great be the battle in life,
Truth in the end shall win.

The image of truth is Christ,
Wisdom's message its rod;
Sign of truth is the cross,
Soul of truth is God.

Life of truth is eternal,
Immortal is its past,
Power of truth will endure,
Truth shall hold to the last.
—Muhammad Ali

The poem below was written about the 1971 Attica prison riots, which resulted in the deaths of 43 people. In the poem, Ali imagines what the prisoners might have said. The Attica riots started on September 9, 1971, when a black inmate was killed while trying to escape the prison. Over the next four days, up to 2,200 prisoners rebelled, taking 42 of the prison staff hostage. Nelson Rockefeller, the New York governor at the time, refused to negotiate with the prisoners' demands for better treatment and conditions. Soldiers raided the prison on September 13, dropping tear gas, then shooting randomly into the smoke for two minutes, non-stop. As a result, 33 prisoners and 10 prison guards ended up dead. Only one death was ascribed to the prisoners, although Rockefeller tried to blame the inmates.


Better far—from all I see—
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?

Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I'm led
Lingering until I'm dead.

Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees.

Better than a heart attack
or some dose of drug I lack;
Let me die by being black.

Better far that I should go;
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know.

Better than the bloody stain
on some highway where I'm lain
Torn by flying glass and pane.

Better calling death to come
than to die another dumb,
muted victim in the slum.

Better than this prison rot;
if there's any choice I've got,
Kill me here on the spot.

Better for my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage,
Less it cool with ancient age.

Better violent for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie.

Better now that I say my sooth;
I'm gonna die demanding Truth
While I'm still akin to youth.

Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone.
Never mind another dawn.
—Muhammad Ali

Ranking Ali

My Top Ten Boxers of All Time: Benny Leonard (#10), Jack Dempsey (#9), Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (#8), Roberto Duran (#7), Floyd Mayweather Jr. (#6), Joe Louis (#5), Sugar Ray Leonard (#4), Rocky Marciano (#3), Sugar Ray Robinson (#2), Muhammad Ali (#1)

Honorable Mention: Henry Armstrong, Ezzard Charles, Joe Gans, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Harry Greb, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Larry Holmes, Jack Johnson, Roy Jones Jr., Sam Langford, Lennox Lewis, Floyd Patterson, Willie Pep, Gene Tunney, Mike Tyson, Pernell Whitaker

According to, Ali was the number one boxer of all time.
According to Ranker, Ali was the number one boxer of all time.
According to Jeff Powell, writing for the Daily Mail,  Ali was the greatest boxer of all time.
According to The Sportster, Ali was the greatest boxer of all time.
According to Box Rec, Ali was the greatest heavyweight of all time.
According to The Telegraph, Ali was the greatest heavyweight of all time.
According to Sporteology, Ali was number two behind Joe Louis.
According to Sports Muntra, Ali was number two behind Sugar Ray Robinson.
According to Ring Magazine, Ali was number three behind Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong.
According to ESPN's ratings of the greatest boxers of all time, Ali was number two behind Sugar Ray Robinson.
But Louis, Robinson and Armstrong did not have Ali's star power or impact outside the ring. Here is ESPN's capsule summary of Ali's career ...

Muhammad Ali
Record: 56-5 (37 KOs) but 55-2 with both losses avenged twice before ill-advised fights at the end of his career

Career notes: First boxer to win heavyweight championship of the world three times … Was banned from the ring for three years for refusing induction into the armed forces during the Vietnam War … After the ban was lifted, lost to Joe Frazier in "Fight of the Century" in 1971, but stunned George Foreman to regain belt in 1974 and defeated Frazier twice … Lost to Ken Norton with a broken jaw, but came back to defeat Norton twice ... Lost title to, and regained it from, Leon Spinks in 1978 at age 36 … Three of Ali's defeats came in his last four bouts, including two in an ill-advised emergence from retirement, against Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, at age 38. … Transcended the sport unlike any other boxer. … Reinvented the way heavyweights were supposed to fight, deploying speed and athleticism that were previously unheard of ... Alternately bedazzled and appalled America and the world with charisma, showmanship and braggadocio. … Viewed progressively over the years as loudmouth, villain, hero and finally a figure of pathos. … Remains for many the definition of a champion.

Was Muhammad Ali the ultimate GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)? Here is one man's ranking of the greatest athletes of all time considering their accomplishments on and off the field, their charisma, their ambassadorship, and their impact of their sport and the larger world: (#50) Gordie Howe, Arnold Palmer and Roberto Clemente, (#49) Rocky Marciano and Teofilo Stevenson, (#48) Alexander Karelin, Dan Gable, Cael Sanderson [wrestling] and Bruce Lee [martial arts], (#47) Tony Hawk [skateboarding] and Jean-Claude Killy [sking], (#46) Martina Navratilova and Rod Laver, (#45) Mia Hamm and Marta Vieira da Silva, (#44) Harold Worst, Willie Mosconi and Efren Reyes [billiards], (#43) Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Red Grange, Don Hutson, Gale Sayers, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White and Dick Butkus, (#42) Julius Erving, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Cheryl Miller, (#41) Jackie Joyner-Kersee, (#40) Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, (#39) Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, (#38) Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, (#37) Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, (#36) Paul Brady [handball], (#35) Wilma Rudolph and Althea Gibson, (#34) Bruce Jenner aka Caitlyn Jenner, (#33) Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, (#32) Daley Thompson and Eric Heiden, (#31) Nancy Lopez, (#30) Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson, (#29) Carl Lewis and Deion Sanders, (#28) Rafael Nadal, (#27) Michael Johnson, (#26) Mario Andretti, Richard Petty and Michael Schumaker, (#25) Bobby Orr, (#24) Joe Louis, (#23) Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar [cricket], (#22) Roger Federer (#21), Diego Maradonna, (#20) Lance Armstrong, (#19) Margaret Court and Serena Williams, (#18) Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, (#17) Tiger Woods, (#16) Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz, (#15) John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, (#14) Jessie Owens, (#13) Lionel Messi, (#12) Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, (#11) Jim Brown and Wilt Chamberlain, (#10) Jim Thorpe and Paavo Nurmi [distance runner], (#9) Nadia Comăneci and Greg Louganis, (#8) Jackie Robinson, (#7) Jack Nicklaus, (#6) Bo Jackson and Babe Didrikson Zaharias, (#5) Michael Jordan, (#4) Wayne Gretzky, (#3) Babe Ruth, (#2) Pelé, (#1) Muhammad Ali

Of course the list above is very subjective. How can three of the greatest athletes and ambassadors of their sports be ranked 50th? All I can say is that appearing anywhere on this list means the athlete was an immortal. I will close with a comment by Roberto Clemente, who was not as brash as Muhammad Ali, but was still supremely confident in his abilities. When someone asked Clemente how he compared himself to more famous figures like Willie Mays, Clemente replied "For me, I am the best." Clemente joined baseball's exclusive 3,000 hit club in his last at-bat, then died trying to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was a great hitter and a great defender with a cannon-like arm. Why quibble over such greatness? Mickey Mantle once poked fun at Pete Rose for hitting so many singles, but Rose ended up with 1,241 more total bases than the legendary slugger. We should give all these great athletes their due, but in my opinion there was never a great athlete who had more impact on his sport and the larger world than Muhammad Ali, so he gets my vote as the Greatest Of All Time.

Where would Ali rank in a list of the greatest figures of all time (not including religious figures)? Here again is one man's list: Gates, Buffett, Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller (#50), Pelé, Gretzky and Babe Ruth (#49), Bob Dylan (#48), Disney, Spielberg, Lucas, Hitchcock and Chaplin (#47), Dante, Cervantes, Chaucer, Dickens, Tolstoy, Verne and Tolkien (#46), Whitney, Watt, Fulton, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers (#45), Bruno, Bohr and Hawking (#44), Henry Ford (#43), Jane Austen (#42), Kepler (#41), Mendel, Watson and Crick (#40), Muhammad Ali (#39), Gutenberg (#38), Descartes, Pascal and Marx (#37), Beatles (#36), Paine (#35), Nelson Mandela (#34), Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa (#33), Churchill, Roosevelt and Ataturk (#32), Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Marilyn Monroe (#31), Marco Polo, Columbus, Magellan, Byrd, Cook, Perry, Hillary, Gagarin and Neil Armstrong (#30), William Blake (#29), Whitman and Dickinson (#28), Lincoln (#27), Goethe (#26), Twain (#25), Joan of Arc (#24), Hippocrates, Fleming, Pasteur and Salk (#23), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Saladin and Napoleon (#22), Homer and Sappho (#21), Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Picasso (#20), Tesla, Turing, Euclid, Archimedes and Pythagoras (#19), Mozart, Beethoven and Bach (#18), Michelangelo (#17), Shakespeare (#16), Confucius (#15), Aristotle (#14), Plato (#13), Socrates (#12), Darwin (#11), Jefferson, Franklin and Washington (#10), Marie Curie (#9), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (#8), Darwin and Freud (#7), Voltaire and Rousseau (#6), Copernicus and Galileo (#5), Newton (#4), Edison (#3), Gandhi (#2), Einstein (#1)

Confident Man, Confidence Quotes

I hear a lot of talk about old-time great fighters. I hear people say that Joe Lewis, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Jeffries and all of them would have annihilated the likes of myself, Muhammad Ali. After watching these films, watching their opponents, watching their styles, watching how they fought, watching their footwork and their speedand my critics will admit that I am the fastest heavyweight in the history of boxing with feet and hands—it may come as a shock to you, but I say that I would have beat every heavyweight that ever lived before me.—Muhammad Ali

Closing Words of Advice

Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you're going to be right.
Muhammad Ali

Related Pages: Marilyn Monroe Poems, Muhammad Ali Poems, Albert Einstein Poems Abraham Lincoln Poems, Mark Twain Poems, Nelson Mandela Poems, Pope Francis Poems, Ronald Reagan Poems

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