man standing and walking going on boxing ring surrounded with people photo

120+ Encouraging Muhammad Ali Quotes on Life, Friendship, and Boxing

World Heavyweight Champion, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., better known as Muhammad Ali, was born on January 17th, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali’s passion for boxing was sparked at the age of 12. After his bicycle was stolen, Ali reported it to Officer Joe Martin saying that he would pummel the criminal. Martin, who was also a boxing trainer, took Ali under his wing, telling him that before he could pummel them he first needed to learn how to fight. Within six weeks Muhammad Ali had won his first bout in a split decision and by the time he was 18, he had two Golden Glove titles, two amateur athletic union titles, and 100 victories with only 8 losses.

It was no exaggeration that Ali soared within the ring so, after graduating high school he traveled to Rome for the 1960 Summer Olympics and won the light heavyweight gold medal. His striking talent got him scooped up by the pros immediately and on October 29th, 1960, Ali fought his first professional match, won, and his boxing career began. After winning 19 fights with 15 being knockouts, he scored his first title shot against reigning heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston. Ali won the heavyweight championship and went on to defend his title 8 more times. After his first title win, Ali confirmed that he was converting to Islam and that Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader, had bestowed him with his famous name, Muhammad Ali.

Ali’s refusal to be drafted and serve in the Vietnam war caused major difficulties for his career as he faced a potential prison sentence, major backlash from his fanbase, and the stripping of his boxing license and heavyweight title. However, Ali stood by his reasoning and as more opposition grew for the war, his license was reinstated. In 1971 the battle to restore his heavyweight title began. Despite his loss in the title fight against Joe Frazier, Ali kept at his training and won it seven years later at the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight against George Foreman. Continuing his legacy as the greatest boxer, he continued to defend it ten times, then lost it once more, then won it again in 1978. This marked him a world champ as he became the first boxer in the world to win the heavyweight championship title three times.

In 1981 at the age of 39, boxing legend Muhammad Ali finally decided to retire with an incredible record of 56 wins (37 being knockouts) and 5 losses. A few years later in 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome which led to a severe decline in his motor functions. Despite his disease, he continued to live a full life, inspiring people around the world with his humanitarian work. Throughout his life, he had been married four times and altogether had seven daughters and two sons. At the age of 1974, on June 3rd, 2006, Muhammad Ali passed away, leaving behind a legacy of determination and generosity to be noted for years to come. Enjoy the greatest quotes from the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, below.

Muhammad Ali’s Many Accomplishments:

In his later years, legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, accomplished a multitude of prestigious accolades that include but are not limited to:

  • Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame (1990)
  • Lit the Olympic Cauldron in Atlanta’s Summer Olympics (1996)
  • BET Humanitarian Award (2002)
  • Worked as the United Nation’s Messenger of Peace in Afghanistan (2002)
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005)
  • The Muhammad Ali Center (a nonprofit museum and cultural center) was Established in Louisville (2005)
  • NAACP Image Award, Presidents Award (2009)
  • Named “Fighter of the Year” in Ring Magazine 5 Times
  • Starred on the Cover of Sports Illustrated 38 times
Muhammed Ali Quotes
Ira Rosenberg – United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division. Digital ID cph.3c15435

Inspirational Muhammad Ali Quotes on Life, Love, and Friendship

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

“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.”

“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.”

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

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

“Old age is just a record of one’s whole life.”

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”

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

“We spend more time learning how to make a living than we do learning how to make a life.”

“Wisdom is knowing when you can’t be wise.”

“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.”

“I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”

“Life is so, so short. Bible says it’s like a vapor.”

“A man who has no imagination has no wings.”

“My way of joking is to tell the truth. That’s the funniest joke in the world.”

“I had always been the one who picked up all the stragglers and stray followers.”

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

“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.”

“The greatest victory in life is to rise above the material things that we once valued most.”

“You are as old as you think you are.”

“Friendship is a priceless gift that cannot be bought nor sold, but its value is far greater than a mountain made of gold.”

“Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”

“I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.”

“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.”

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

“When it comes to love, compassion, and other feelings of the heart, I am rich.”

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

“My wealth is in my knowledge of self, love, and spirituality.”

“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.”

“When we devote all of our actions to a spiritual goal, everything that we do becomes a prayer.”

“Each time I thought I had achieved my ‘life’s purpose,’ I discovered it was only another step in my journey.”

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

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

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

“We can’t be brave without fear.”

“Give up what appears to be doubtful for what is certain. Truth brings peace of mind, and deception doubt.”

“No one starts out on top. You have to work your way up.”

“To be able to give away riches is mandatory if you wish to possess them. This is the only way that you will be truly rich.”

“I love children. I can never pass them by without saying something to them. They make you want to start life all over again.”

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it — then I can achieve it.”

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

“Others may know pleasure, but pleasure is not happiness. It has no more importance than a shadow following a man.”

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

“Put yourself out on a limb, like me!”

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

Motivational Muhammad Ali Quotes on Growth, Boxing, and Becoming a Sensational Fighter

“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.”

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

“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.”

“My principles are more important than the money or my title.”

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

“I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”

“My toughest fight was with my first wife.”

“When I won the Golden Gloves in 1960, that made me realize I had a chance. And when I won at the Olympics, that sealed it: I was the champ.”

“If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize.”

“I don’t count the sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count. That’s what makes you a champion.”

“There are no pleasures in a fight, but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.”

“I loved the smell of horse and hay and the sight of their beautiful bodies. Somehow it inspired me to train harder so my body could be in condition like that.”

“I do everything to make the fight come out my way, but if I’m defeated I have to get up and come back again, no matter how humiliating the loss.”

“It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

“What keeps me going is goals.”

“It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

“Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.”

“People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone. Like President Kennedy, there was no one like him, the Beatles, and my man Elvis Presley. I was the Elvis of boxing.”

“Too many easy victories can ruin a fighter just as much as a long line of defeats.”

“The critics only made me work harder.”

“I know no fighter can survive the loss if he feels sorry for himself when he’s defeated.”

“When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.”

“Champions are made from something they have deep inside them— a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

“His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”

“It’s in my blood to be around people while I was training.”

“I don’t care how small the ring is, I’ll fight that chump in a telephone booth.”

“When you want to talk about who made me, you talk to me. Who made me, is me.”

“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.”

“Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you.”

“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”

“It’s funny, but those who hate me the most sometimes inspire me the most.”

“It takes pride and tiger’s drive to build up the confidence, the ego, the power to defeat an opponent in the ring.”

“Now you see me, now you don’t.”

“I know I can learn to hit without getting hit.”

“Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.”

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

“I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I’m in a world of my own.”

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”

“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.”

“You don’t have to be in a boxing ring to be a great fighter. As long as you are true to yourself, you will succeed in your fight for that in which you believe.”

“No one knows what to say in the loser’s locker room.”

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”

“If you lose a big fight, it will worry you all of your life. It will plague you— until you get your revenge.”

“I learn to put my head within hitting range, force my opponent to throw blows, then learn back and away.”

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times. Who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”

“I believe in the an eye-for-an-eye business. I’m no cheek turner.”

“I have never heard anything that affected me like those words: ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World.’”

“I may have been the best fighter, but I was also the poorest. I had never been able to afford a first-class mouthpiece to protect my teeth. I had to wait until other fighters finished so I could borrow their headgear, or their trunk or bandages.”

“I’ve never let anyone talk me into not believing in myself.”

Muhammad Ali Quotes on Race, Prejudice, and Politics

“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.”

“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world.”

“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”

“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.”

“You lose nothing when fighting for a cause.”

“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.”

“Think well of all, be patient with all, and try to find the good in all.”

“There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people.”

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

“I don’t trust anyone who’s nice to me but rude to the waiter. Because they would treat me the same way if I were in that position.”

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Quotes from his Rhymes and Speeches

“I’ve wrestled with alligators / I’ve tussled with a whale / I done handcuffed lightning / And throw thunder in jail.”

“I’d like for them to say he took a few cups of love, / he took one tablespoon of patience, teaspoon of generosity, / one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, / one pinch of concern, / and then, / he mixed willingness with happiness, / he added lots of faith, / and he stirred it up well, / then he spreads it over his span of a lifetime, / and he served it to each and every deserving person he met.” -Muhammad Ali’s, “Recipe of Life”

“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 are runnin’ with Cash. / This brash young boxer is something to see / And the heavyweight championship is his des-tin-y. / This kid fights great; he’s got speed and endurance, / But if you sign to fight him, increase your insurance. / This kid’s got a left; this kid’s got a right, / If he hit you once, you’re asleep for the night. / And as you lie on the floor while the ref counts ten, / You’ll pray that you won’t have to fight me again. / For I am the man this poem’s about, / The next champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt. / This I predict and I know the score, / I’ll be champ of the world in ’64. / When I say three, they’ll go in the third, / 10 months ago / So don’t bet against me, I’m a man of my word. / He is the greatest! Yes! / 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!” -Muhammad Ali’s Poem, “I Am the Greatest”

“You’re my opposer when I want freedom; You’re my opposer when I want justice; You’re my opposer when I want equality; You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won’t even stand up for me here at home!” -Ali Defends Not Participating in the Vietnam War; Quoted from the Movie “Ali” (2001)

“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.” Ali Defends Not Participating in the Vietnam War

“I wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

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