Muhammad Ali died on Friday at the age of 74 after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer passed away at Phoenix area hospital, and his funeral would be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Born Cassius Clay but changed his name to Muhammad Ali after he became a Muslim, he would be remembered for his prefight routine, which was to insult his opponent, and his many inspirational quotes:
“Cassius Clay is a slave name,” Ali said. “I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name, and I insist people using it when speaking to me and of me.”
Citing his faith, he refused to report for the draft board when his number came up to serve in Vietnam. This was principle he said, citing conscientious objector status. He then tore apart then entire fallacy of that war, and the state of racial affairs in America, with two succinct sentences that the finest political speechwriter could only dream to have thought up.
“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” Ali said. “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important,” he said. “It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”
‘What I suffered physically was worth what I’ve accomplished in life,’ he said in 1984. ‘A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life.’
“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be.
I’m free to be what I want.”
“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
“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.”
“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”
“My trainer don’t tell me nothing between rounds. I don’t allow him to. I fight the fight. All I want to know is did I win the round. It’s too late for advice.”
“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”
“Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I am free, that I don’t belong anymore to anyone, that I’m not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one.”
“I calculate that I took 20,000 punches, but I earned millions and kept a lot of it. I may talk slow, but my mind is OK.”
“The fact is, I was never too bright in school. I ain’t ashamed of it, though. I mean, how much do school principals make a month?”
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
“The name Muhammad is the most common name in the world. In all the countries around the world – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon – there are more Muhammads than anything else. When I joined the Nation of Islam and became a Muslim, they gave me the most famous name because I was the champ.”
“Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you.”
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
“Superman don’t need no seat belt.”
Sources: Dailymail and brainyquote.com