22 of Muhammad Ali’s greatest quotes of all time

Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s greatest boxers, died on Friday, June 3, at the age of 74.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali started boxing at age 12 – and ultimately became known for much more than just his successful boxing career.

Ali converted to Islam in 1964, changing his name from Cassius Clay – what he called his “slave name” – to Muhammed Ali after becoming affiliated with the Nation of Islam. His political activism and charity inspired millions throughout his life.

We’ve compiled some of his now iconic words of wisdom and trademark boxing-ring rhymes.


“If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”

Source: Goodreads


“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Source: Goodreads


“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”


“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Source: Goodreads


“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 `til Sonny comes down/Now Liston disappears from view.”

Source: CSN Philly


“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”

Source: Parade


“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.”

Source: Parade


“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”


“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

Source: Parade


“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.”

Source: Goodreads


“Joe’s gonna come out smokin’/ But I ain’t gonna be jokin’. /This might shock and amaze ya /But I’m going to destroy Joe Frazier.”

Source: CSN Philly


“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

Source: Goodreads


“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.”

Source: CSN Philly


“I got speed and endurance./You’d better increase your insurance.”

Source: CSN Philly


“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.”

Source: Goodreads


“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.”

Source: Parade


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US boxing great Muhammad Ali poses at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
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Thomson Reuters

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”

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Getty Images/Allsport

Source: Goodreads


“Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.”

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April 9, 1991: Muhammad Ali looks on during a bout between Evander Holyfield and George Foreman at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Getty Images/Barry Jarvinian

Source: Goodreads


“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

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Muhammad Ali receives a replacement gold medal for one he lost many years ago during a halftime ceremony of the Yugoslavia vs. USA basketball game at the Georgia Dome at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Getty Images/Doug Pensinger

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

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Gray Mortimore / Staff

Source: Goodreads


“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

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Muhammad Ali onstage during the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s 2010 Benefit “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s” at The Waldorf-Astoria on November 13, 2010, in New York City.
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Getty Images/Andrew H. Walker