Muhammad Ali: A life in quotes, pictures and videos

After knocking down Sonny Liston with the still-controversial phantom punch in their second fight: "Get up and fight, sucker!". (AFP)

After knocking down Sonny Liston with the still-controversial phantom punch in their second fight: "Get up and fight, sucker!". (AFP)

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay jr on January  17 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali took up boxing at the age of 12, after his bicycle was stolen. He angrily vowed to “whup” the person who had taken it, but policeman Joe Martin – who unwittingly launched his boxing career – advised him: “You better learn to fight before you start fightin’.’‘

As a mouthy and unapologetic black man Ali earned the nickname the “Louisville Lip” and he would go on to recite poetry, call out injustice and trash talk for the rest of his boxing career. Here are some of his unforgettable utterances.

On religion


On his job:  “It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

On courage: “What I suffered physically was worth what I’ve accomplished in life. A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life.”

On how to make the most of your life:

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, rumble young man rumble


On February 27 1964, Cassius Clay announced that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. Ali’s rejection of his birth name, which he insisted was his slave name, and his affiliation with the Nation of Islam made white Americans livid, but it was his refusal to be inducted into the Army that incensed them the most.

On refusing military induction:



On being humble
:  “Braggin’ is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say.” 

On being prepared: “How tall are you? So I can know in advance how far to step back when you fall down!”

The Rope-a-Dope a boxing strategy he devised to beat George Foreman in eight rounds in then Zaire in 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle”:

 

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