Muhammad Ali, in his own words

Then known as Cassius Clay, Ali throws a left to Sonny Liston in their first title fight in Miami Beach. Ali won the title for the first time.
Then known as Cassius Clay, Ali throws a left to Sonny Liston in their first title fight in Miami Beach. Ali won the title for the first time.
Published Jun. 5, 2016

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 such as 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." — 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. Rumble, young man, rumble." — 1964, before his title fight with Sonny Liston

"I'm king of the world! I'm pretty! I'm a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!" — Feb. 25, 1964, after defeating Liston in Miami Beach

"My name is Muhammad Ali, and you will announce it right there in the center of that ring." — addressing boxer Ernie Terrell, who kept calling him Cassius Clay, before Ali slapped him in the face during a TV interview

"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. … Shoot them for what? They never called me n- - - - -. They never lynched me." — Ali's famous explanation of why he refused to serve in the Army

"They did what they thought was right, and I did what I thought was right." — on the government's long effort to send him to prison for refusing to serve in the Army

"I have wrestled with a alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, throwed thunder in jail." — before his heavyweight championship fight in 1974 against George Foreman

"I told you all, I was the greatest of all time." — after defeating George Foreman in the "The Rumble in the Jungle"

"It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am." — undated

"You serious? I got to stay here and lead my people to the right man — Elijah Muhammad." — when asked why he didn't flee the country, in a New York Times interview April 26, 1967, two days before refusing induction into military service

"I've done my celebrating already. I said a prayer to Allah." — June 28, 1971, on being told his conviction for draft evasion was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court

"I told you all, all of my critics, that I was the greatest of all time. … Never make me the underdog until I'm about 50 years old." — Oct. 1, 1974, after knocking out George Foreman to become heavyweight champion for the second time, in Kinshasa, Zaire

"I saw your wife. You're not as dumb as you look." — to President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, referring to his wife, Imelda, a few days before Ali beat Joe Frazier in the "Thrilla in Manila" on Oct. 1, 1975

"My gloves are going to jail! They ain't done nothin' — yet." — on being told the commission member in charge of the gloves would keep them in a prison until his fight against Joe Bugner on July 1, 1975, at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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"My name is known in Serbia, Pakistan, Morocco. These are countries that don't follow the Kentucky Derby." New York Times interview, April 1977

"People say I talk so slow today. That's no surprise. I calculated I've taken 29,000 punches. But I earned $57 million, and I saved half of it. So I took a few hard knocks. Do you know how many black men are killed every year by guns and knives without a penny to their names? I may talk slow, but my mind is okay." — Jan. 20, 1984, in Seattle for a benefit for Sugar Ray Seales, legally blind because of detached retinas suffered while boxing