Muhammad Ali at 70: Here’s 70 quotes, facts, figures and videos about The Greatest
Muhammad Ali has turned 70. Here’s our mammoth tribute to The Greatest.
Muhammad Ali’s life in 30 quotes
Ali on confidence:
1. “I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey were just jet pilots. I’m in a world of my own.”
2. “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.”
3. “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.”
4. “You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.
5. “There are two things that are hard to hit and see. That’s a spooky ghost and Muhammad Ali.”
Muhammad Ali on opponents
6. “Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.”
7. “I’ll beat him (Floyd Patterson) so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”
8. “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.”
9. “I’ve seen George Foreman shadow boxing. And the shadow won.”
10. “Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can’t talk. The man can’t fight. The man needs talking lessons. The man needs boxing lessons. And since he’s gonna fight me, he needs falling lessons.”
What Ali’s opponents said about him
11. “I hit him so hard that I made him cry. He looked at me and said, “I’m going to get you for that.” I respected him then, and I respect him now.” – George Foreman
12.”Man, I hit him with punches that’d bring down the walls of a city. Lordy, lordy, he’s a great champion.” – Joe Frazier.
13. “You know Ali is a nut. You can tell what a normal man is going to do, but you can’t tell what a nut is going to do and Ali is a nut.” – Liston, two years after losing his crown.
14. “I know something’s wrong. I really didn’t want to hit you.” – Larry Holmes after stopping Ali.
15. “The day of the Ali fight I bought my wife a powder blue negligee and told her ‘wear this tonight, ’cause you’ll be sleepin’ with the heavyweight champion of the world’. That night, when I got back to the room, she said: ‘Do I go to his room or will he be coming to mine?’” – Chuck Wepner, who fought Ali in 1975.
Muhammad Ali philosophy
16. “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted thirty years of his life.”
17. “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”
18. “God will not place a burden on a man’s shoulders knowing that he cannot carry it.”
19. “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
20. “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”
21. “I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”
22. “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.”
23. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
24. “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
25. “To be able to give away riches is mandatory if you wish to possess them. This is the only way that you will be truly rich.”
What others said about him:
26. “I’d like to borrow his body for just 48 hours – there are three guys I’d like to beat up, and four women I’d like to make love to.” – Sportswriter Jim Murray.
27. “That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.” – Writer and journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
28. “He used to ask me to throw rocks at him. I thought he was crazy, but he’d stand back and dodge every one of them… I could never hit him.” – Ali’s brother Rahman.
29. “Because billions of our people in Africa, Asia and Arabia love you blindly, you must be forever aware of your responsibility to them.” Malcolm X. (No pressure, then)
30. “He made boxing exciting and meaningful again. He was entertaining and when he was younger he was always mouthing off. But it was part of his schtick. He made it part theatre, part dance and all power.” – Bill Clinton.
Muhammad Ali’s life in 30 numbers
1 – Olympic gold medals (won the light-heavyweight division at the 1960 Games but he threw it in the Ohio river in disgust at the racism in his home town. He was awarded a replacement in 1996)
1 – Fights in Dublin (he defeated Al ‘Blue’ Lewis in Croke Park in 1972)
1 – Position on Ring Magazine’s to 50 heavyweights of all time
1 – Movies he appeared in as an actor (1979 TV movie Freedom Road)
1 – Album’s recorded (Spoken word album I Am The Greatest was released in 1964)
3 – Nicknames (The Greatest, The Champ, The Louisville Lip)
3 – Position he achieved in ESPN’s Athlete of the 20th Century poll. Michael Jordan was first, Babe Ruth was second
3 and a half – Years he was banned from boxing (1967-1970) due to his refusal to go to Vietnam
4 – Marriages
5 – Ring Magazine fighter of the year awards
5 – Number of birthday parties he’s having this year. The first of those was last Saturday night, where it cost $1,000 to attend
9 – Children
9 – Of the Top 10 most expensive pieces of boxing memorabilia, nine belonged to Ali. And the 10th was Frazier’s robe from the Thrilla in Manila.
14 – Number of hostages released after Ali went to Iraq to secure their release in 1990 (before start of first Gulf War)
28 – Years he’s been suffering from Parkinson’s disease
33 – World title fights, including 30 title defences
37 – Knockouts
37 – Appearances on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Only Michael Jordan has more
39 – Age he retired
56 – Wins as a professional
61 – Fights
97 – Percentage of Americans over 12 who recognised his face in a 1993 test
109 – Documentaries and TV series he has appeared in as himself, according to IMDb
132 – Amateur fights, of which he lost only five
9,826 – Books about Muhammad Ali, according to Amazon.com
$173,000 – The auction price of Ali’s shorts from the first Frazier fight in Madison Square Garden in 1971
718,917: Likes on his official Facebook page
1,000,000 – Annual earnings today, in US dollars
50,000,000 – The amount he sold 80 per cent of his name and likeness rights to entertainment company CKX in 2006, in US dollars
60,000,000 – Estimated career earnings, in US dollars
Ten of our favourite Muhammad Ali YouTube videos
Ali in Ireland, 1972: “Irish football and hurling? I’ll stick to the boxin’
The Cathal O’Shannon RTE interview:
In Ennis in 2009:
BBC Sports Personality of the Century:
Adidas – Impossible is nothing:
When We Were Kings trailer:
The career highlights reel:
I am the greatest:
Ali’s greatest ever performance, as judged by those in the know, against Cleveland Williams in 1966:
Ali’s appearance on Candid Camera: