Muhammad Ali – The Greatest

Our Olympic Quotations of the Day

8th August 2012

Muhammed Ali - The GreatestMuhammad Ali may seem like a bit of a ‘Blast from the Past’ but he was there at the opening ceremony of London 2012, although it was very sad to see him looking so frail after seeing him in his prime.

One thing we could always be sure of with Muhammad Ali, was that he was never lacking a few words and I really didn’t know where to stop when I was researching him and his quotations. Perhaps his most famous quotation is;

“I am the Greatest.”  Followed closely by;

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

He had an amazing positive attitude;

“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.”

Some of you may be surprised at hear this;

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

Muhammad Ali had a great sense of humour, often, at the expense of his opponents – a bit like this one;

“Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.”

But then there were quips like this;

“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.”

Being a lifelong learner, myself, and having a passion for Personal Development, I particularly like this one;

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

And he was never lacking for a few wise words;

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

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

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

He was never one to hide his views – and who could argue with this one, anyway?

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

He may even have seemed a little conceited, at times;

“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.”

But we loved him, didn’t we?  Still do.

As I said earlier, I really didn’t know where to stop when it comes to quotations from Muhammad Ali – just in case you hadn’t noticed – but I’ll finish with this one;

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

What a great sentiment.

A Bit About Muhammad Ali

Ali (he changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964) was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on 17th January 1942 and is, probably, the most famous sportsman of all time, as well as, the most famous boxer. Also described as a philanthropist and social activist, he’s widely considered to be a cultural icon and has been idolized and vilified during his lifetime.

Muhammed Ali - The Greatest - In ActionMuhammad Ali won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1960 and the World Heavyweight Championship, for the first time, in 1964.

In 1967, because of his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War, he refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military. Ali stated, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong… No Viet Cong ever called me nigger” but he was still publicly vilified as a result of the stance he took.

This was before widespread protests against the Vietnam War had started, but with that one phrase, Muhammad Ali provided the reason for a generation of young Americans to oppose the war. His words were like a catalyst for the racial and anti-war upheavals that rocked America in the 1960s. His example provided inspiration for Martin Luther King, Jr. who, until then, had been reluctant to voice his own opposition to the war.

Ali was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, which resulted in him being stripped of his boxing title and his boxing license. He was spared a prison sentence but was unable to fight for nearly four years whilst his appeal, gradually, worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eventually, his conviction was overturned.

Muhammad Ali went on to become the first, and only, three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.

He was nicknamed “The Greatest,” and was involved in a number of historic boxing matches including three fights with Joe Frazier, which are considered to be amongst the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles from seven years earlier.

Muhammad Ali practiced an unorthodox fighting style, which he described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and he employed techniques such as the ‘Ali Shuffle’ and the ‘Rope-a-Dope’ to great effect. Ali brought beauty and grace to an uncompromising sport and with his wonderful excesses of skill and character, he became the most famous athlete in the world.

Muhammed Ali - The Greatest - in Atlanta in 1996In 1996 he lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta to widespread acclaim.and in 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

Here’s a little known fact for you; ‘The Muhammad Ali Effect’ is a term used in psychology.  It was named after him after he stated in his autobiography, “I only said I was the greatest, not the smartest”. ‘The Muhammad Ali Effect’ states that; when people are asked to rate their intelligence and moral behaviour in comparison to others, they will rate themselves as more moral, but not more intelligent.

Muhammad Ali really is one of the all-time sporting icons.

Have a great one,

Steve Bimpson

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