Why Muhammad Ali isn’t great

Every so often in the annals of history, we come across a figure who is born special – Muhammad Ali is one of them.

Ali was a genius on many levels. Apart from his skill as a boxer, he was a master rhetorician and thinker. It was Ali’s 70th birthday this week, here are some of his best quotes:

Psychology of the man

“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.’”


“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.”

Howard Cosell: “You are being extremely truculent today, Champ.”
Ali: “Whatever ‘truculent’ means, if that’s good, I’m that!”

“I’ve seen George Foreman shadowboxing…and the shadow won.”

(Before knocking out Foreman in their famed ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ clash in 1974.)

Anti-war stance (Vietnam)

“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?”

“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.”


“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.”

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


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

“I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace and understanding. l am still learning.”

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

Ali wasn’t merely great – there is a reason why he is called The Greatest.

“Will they ever have another fighter who writes poems, predicts rounds, beats everybody, makes people laugh, makes people cry and is as tall and extra pretty as me?”

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