Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay (Jr) on January 17 1942) is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist.
Considered a cultural icon, Ali was both idolised and vilified.
Originally known as Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975 and more recently practicing Sufism.
In 1967, three years after Ali had won the World Heavyweight Championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the United States military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Ali stated: I aint got no quarrel with them Viet Cong . . . No Viet Cong ever called me nigger, one of the more telling remarks of the era.
Widespread protests against the Vietnam War had not yet begun, but with that one phrase, Ali articulated the reason to oppose the war for a generation of young Americans, and his words served as a touchstone for the racial and anti-war upheavals that would rock the 1960s.
Alis example inspired Martin Luther King (Jr) who had been reluctant to alienate the Johnson administration and its support of the civil rights agenda to voice his own opposition to the war for the first time.
Ali would eventually be arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges; he was stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing licence was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the US Supreme Court, where it was eventually successful.
Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
Muhammad Ali Greatest quotes:
Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. Its not something you learn in school. But if you havent learned the meaning of friendship, you really havent learned anything.
If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it then I can achieve it.
Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world theyve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. Its an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. Its a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Live everyday as if it were your last because someday youre going to be right.
Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesnt matter which colour does the hating. Its just plain wrong.
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.
The man with no imagination has no wings.
Inside of a ring or out, aint nothing wrong with going down. Its staying down thats wrong.
Champions arent made in gyms. 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.
You lose nothing when fighting for a cause . . . In my mind the losers are those who dont have a cause they care about.
To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If youre not, pretend you are.
The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.
Its just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
What youre thinking is what youre becoming.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
Im a fighter. I believe in the eye-for-an-eye business. Im no cheek turner. I got no respect for a man who wont hit back. You kill my dog, you better hide your cat.
Dont count the days, make the days count.
Others may know pleasure, but pleasure is not happiness. It has no more importance than a shadow following a man.
Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are
The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20, has wasted 30 years of his life.
If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, then they can sure make something out of you.
I am America. I am the part you wont recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
Jokes? There are no jokes. The truth is the funniest joke of all.
I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.
Its hard to be humble when youre as great as I am.
Its lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.
I am the greatest.
Often it isnt the mountains ahead that wear you out, its the little pebble in your shoe.
I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.
Silence is golden when you cant think of a good answer.
What keeps me going is goals.
I never thought of losing, but now that its happened, the only thing is to do it right. Thats my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.
I know where Im going and I know the truth, and I dont have to be what you want me to be. Im free to be what I want.
There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people.
Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see.
Go to college, stay in school, If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
I aint got no quarrel with the Viet Cong . . . No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.
I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin hell, but as long as they aint free, I aint free.
I done wrestled with an alligator. I done tussled with a whale. Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. Im so mean I make medicine sick.