Posted On January 5, 2014 By In Sports, Sports Takes

Listen to the Champ


Muhammad Ali is the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. He fought 61 bouts in 21 years, winning 56 times, 37 times by KO. He was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1960 and was the heavyweight champion of the world 1964-1967, 1974-1978, 1978-1979. He was also the most controversial athlete of his time.


He knew he was the greatest, saying:

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”

He could talk down any opponent, saying things like:

“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.”

and, of course:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”




He wasn’t afraid to stand up to racial injustice:

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

and he didn’t back down from any belief, even if it cost him his golden years of boxing:

“I ain’t got no quarrel with the VietCong. No VietCong ever called me a nigger.”

He knew what work he had to do:

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

and he believed he would be the best at it:

“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.”



He had a sweet side:

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

And was pretty wise:

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”



He even wrote poems:

“It will be a killer, and a chiller, and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manila.”

but he was always ferocious:

“I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.”


 “I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”



And, always the best, he had lots to say, because:

“No one knows what to say in the loser’s locker room.”

Here’s to the greatest, who didn’t spend much time in the loser’s locker room. 





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John O'Neill is a writer for Writtalin. He keeps his nose in the news. He is a big fan of pretty sunset pictures and crisp words. Don't tell him, show him. Firm believer in dinner and drinks. Journalist, athlete. You can email John at: [email protected]