Muhammad Ali was a masterful boxer, winning the heavyweight championship three times while redefining the sport. Outside the ring, Ali often used his mouth to fight his battles. Whether he was taunting opponents like Joe Frazier or George Foreman, or backing up his religious, political and social stances, Ali was an effective orator. Here are some of his greatest moments.
“Henry, this is no jive. The fight will end in five.”
— A young Cassius Clay, in a 1963 interview, claiming to have predicted the round in which he would beat British boxer Henry Cooper.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
— Clay taunted boxer Sonny Liston in the days before their world heavyweight title bout in February 1964.
“Shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me.”
— Ali refused to be drafted into the armed forces during the Vietnam War. He was denied a boxing license and did not fight for three years.
“My name is Muhammad Ali, and you will announce it right there in center of that ring.”
— Ali addressing Ernie Terrell, who kept calling him Cassius Clay, before Ali slapped him in the face during a television interview.
“I have wrestled with a alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, throwed thunder in jail.”
— Before the heavyweight championship fight in 1974 against George Foreman known as “The Rumble in the Jungle.”
“I told you all, I was the greatest of all time.”
— Ali speaking after defeating Foreman in the “The Rumble in the Jungle.”