15 Muhammad Ali Quotes To Celebrate The Legend

Published June 6, 2016
Updated November 9, 2023

These fifteen moving Muhammad Ali quotes, from the profound to the witty, capture how much the pioneering athlete and activist changed the world.

On June 3, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. While Parkinson’s disease spelled a rather sedentary life for the groundbreaking boxer, his early career was nothing short of indefatigable.

Black, proud, and powerful, as The New York Times wrote, Ali — née Cassius Clay — refused to play the “emasculating role” of caution and restraint that his white peers demanded of him. Converting to Islam at the age of 22, shucking his “slave name” of Clay for Ali, and refusing to serve in the Vietnam War, Ali lived his life the way he wanted — and unapologetically so.

Ali suffered in the public eye for many of these decisions, and yet it is his perseverance, and his commitments to the causes of peace and service that have led so many to consider Ali to be, as The New York Times says, “the iconic figure of our time, a compassionate figure who seems to transcend race.”

With that in mind, here are some of the Muhammad Ali quotes — philosophical and braggadocios alike — that we should all remember:

Muhammad Ali Quotes
“Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you're going to be right.”Wikimedia Commons

He Who Is Not Courageous
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”AFP/Getty Images

I Am The Greatest Muhammad Ali Quotes
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images

Services To Others Quote
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”AFP/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali On Imagination
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”AFP/Getty Images

Best Quotes By Muhammad Ali
“It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.”AFP/Getty Images

I Beat People Up Quote
“It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Don't Count The Days Make The Days Count
“Don’t count the days; make the days count.”AFP/Getty Images

Funny Muhammad Ali Quotes
“If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize.”Wikimedia Commons

Portrait Of Muhammad Ali
“Braggin' is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say.”Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

I'm So Mean
"I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."Cliff1066/Flickr

Cassius Clay On Training
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”AFP/Getty Images

Humble People Don't Get Very Far
“At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”Allsport UK/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Float Like A Butterfly Sting Like A Bee
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see.”Barry Jarvinian/Getty Images

Best Muhammad Ali Quotes Ever
"I'm young; I'm handsome; I'm fast. I can't possibly be beat."HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images

And if you enjoyed these inspiring Muhammad Ali quotes, check out our other posts on interesting quotes and history's funniest insults and comebacks. Then, check out the most memorable words ever uttered by Bruce Lee.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.