On June 3 2016 America lost one of its finest modern day heroes. Muhammad Ali was pronounced dead in an Arizona hospital after being put on life support. Ali is without question one of the greatest sports heroes of all time, and likely the single greatest simply due to his outspokenness and courage. Ali stood for so much more than boxing. He was also a pioneer in the civil rights movement, and in the religious fredom movement.
Ali was an incredibly wise man, and an elite strategist. He had epic bouts with Joe Frazier in which Ali would try to win the fight with his words weeks before the fight took place. He understood the power of words as well as actions. He was keen on knowing that words were just as powerful as his punches, so he used his words very wisely.
Today's athletes are much less politically active than Ali was in his day. Today, the biggest example of an athlete making a political statement is when we saw LeBron James and his teammates wearing "I can't breathe" shirts to pay respect and bring attention to Eric Garner. Ali literally risked his life, reputation, and his career to protest the Vietnam war. Ali was stripped of his titles and from age 25-29, Ali was not allowed to participate in any boxing matches, effectively spoiling his prime years. Still, Ali stood tall and did not back down, and eventually Ali drew sympathy from the U.S. public as the images from the war began to surface. The public began to side with Ali and what he stood for.
We are all lucky to have had Muhammad Ali grace this world and change it so much for the better. Today we will look at the greatest quotes Muhammad Ali ever spoke. We could all learn a thing or two from "The Greatest."
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15 On School
"Stay in college, get the knowledge, stay there until you are through. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something of you!"
Ali always had a way to motivate those who were feeling down, didn't he? Ali famously told this to a reporter when he was asked about kids staying in school. For many children, Ali was a role model, and these words of wisdom likely resonated.
14 The Regretful Ali
"Turning my back on Malcolm X was one of the mistakes I regret most in my life. I wish I'd been able to tell Malcolm I was sorry."
Ali and Malcolm X had a great friendship at one point. They were similar men in many ways, from looks to beliefs to attitude. Unfortunately, they did not always see eye to eye and Ali was unable to get closure on that chapter of his life before Malcolm X was assassinated.
13 Race And The Nation Of Islam
“The Nation Of Islam taught that white people are devils. I don’t believe that now; in fact, I never really believed that.”
Ali famously changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali when he converted to the Nation of Islam. He often said the name Cassius Clay was his slave name. It was also the name his father gave him, as he was officially Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
12 After Suffering An Upset Loss
"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."
After Ali lost as a 5-1 favorite against Ken Norton, Ali had to do a little soul searching before coming up with this profound perspective on losing. Ali always took things in perfect stride and with the proper perspective.
11 On Getting Old
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
Ali was always looking to make progress and get better at whatever life offered him. When looking at his life, it is easy to see the growth over the years, from the young, handsome, outspoken champion to the older, wiser father figure he morphed into in his later years, Ali was always growing older and wiser. While his body was failing him with Parkinson's disease, his mind never did.
10 Regarding Golf
"I'm the best. I just haven't played yet."
Never one to be bashful or insecure, Ali claimed to be the best at golf even though he had never played. Obviously this was tongue in cheek, but none-the-less this was who Muhammad Ali was--always the jokester with a cockiness that was impossible to knock. And who knows? Maybe Ali would have been great at golf had he tried it. He was good at everything else he attempted.
9 How To Be Humble Without Ruining Yourself
“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.”
Ali was always aware of his surrounding and his place in them. Ali cannot be accused of being too humble, that's for sure. Instead, he is famous for his boisterousness and being a trash talker, but that was part of his image and he always knew how to differentiate his home life from his professional life.
8 The Poet
"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, hospitalized a brick. I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."
What can be said about the eloquence in which Ali was able to speak. He had a way with his fists as well as his words and he was not bashful about using those words to hype himself.
7 On Courage
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
Ali was certainly not afraid to take risks in his own life. He risked all he had built and he risked his future when he boycotted the Vietnam war. He refused to go fight a war he did not believe in, and in the end, he certainly accomplished a lot by being extremely courageous. His legacy goes far beyond his feats in the ring because of this.
6 Fake It 'Til You Make It
"I'm the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was."
Ali constantly referred to himself as "the greatest." With a 31-0 record through 1970, it was easy to see why. Ali became the world heavyweight champion at the young age of 22, when he defeated Sonny Liston on Feb. 25, 1964. He projected confidence and strength and understood that it was important to believe what you tell yourself in order to reach your maximum potential.
5 What Is boxing?
“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”
Ali never bit his tongue. He knew exactly what boxing was at the time and he was not afraid to let the world know. He saw how the world of boxing was exploiting African Americans and he was a firm believer that things needed to change. Thanks to Muhammad Ali, a fighter like Floyd Mayweather Jr. is able to make over $30 million in one boxing match.
4 Classic Ali
“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and got into bed before the room was dark.”
This is my personal favorite of all the wonderful Ali lines. He somehow found a way to make the simplest idea a dream for people. As a child, I spent many nights trying to race the light. I was never successful, but then again not everyone can be Muhammad Ali.
When asked what he would want people to say about him after he is gone, Ali said: "I’d like for them to say: He took a few cups of love. He took one tablespoon of patience, one 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 spread it over a span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met."
Ali wasn't just about trash talking. He had many intelligent things to say and he always was happy to share his perspective on the more important things in life.
2 Message To The world
“Death is so near, and time for friendly action is so limited. Love and peace always.”
Ali said this after his fight with George Foreman in the Philippines. He always preached peace, love and understanding to those he came into contact with. It is a lasting message that should be spread to the world on a daily basis. He understood that life is short and that we should take every opportunity to be better because that is what will be remembered.
1 Ali Being Ali
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see."
Everyone knows this one, it is one of the most famous lines of all time. Ali is such a historic figure that his quotes will go down with the likes of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Ali was so much more than just a fighter, but this quote will be the one that folks will remember for the rest of time. R.I.P. to "The Greatest."
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