Top 10 Greatest Muhammad Ali Quotes
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough.
Muhammad Ali's best rhymes were as famous as Muhammad Ali's best fights. Whether it was an inspiring Muhammad Ali quote like “Don't count the days; make the days count,” a classic Muhammad Ali taunt like “I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked” or a universal Muhammad Ali saying like “Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing,” this heavyweight champion boxer never failed to impress with his words. WatchMojo counts down ten of the best Muhammad Ali quotes.
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Script written by Q.V. Hough.
Top 10 Most Inspiring Muhammad Ali Quotes
Inspirational and entertaining, Muhammad Ali influenced pop culture through his unique way of communicating with the world. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Muhammad Ali Quotes.
For this list, we’re focusing on the most classic lines spoken by the famous boxer and American icon.
#10: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
For most, the monthly rent is a perpetual issue. But with this Muhammad Ali quote, he reminds us of a basic truth we often take for granted: life is a gift. It’s a quote that can jumpstart any day, and regardless of one’s personal wealth, the basic sentiment rings true. Back in Ali’s time, there were consequences for speaking out against traditional norms, but one could always improve their life by maintaining a positive attitude and showing support for others. Because of that, this Aliquote is timeless.
#9: "If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.”
Over his 61 career fights, Muhammad Ali would usually embarrass his opponents with technique and verbal jabs, even when he lost. So this quote makes perfect sense given The Champ’s 56 career victories – 37 of which came by knockout. But if you’re at all familiar with Ali’s hilarious bravado, then you just may smile when hearing this classic quote. After all, he was “The Greatest” during his prime, and his opponents recognized how easily he could talk the talk and walk the walk.
#8: “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
Throughout his career, Muhammad Ali would offer up some telling words about overcoming adversity. He was more than just a respected boxer – he was a seasoned champ that had been through it all, both inside and outside the ring. Even so, Ali still managed to retain his elite status, and his practical way of thinking reminds us of the little things we tend to overlook in our journey through life. We can see the big obstacle in front of us, but it’s crucial to identify the small ones that come along the way. Given Ali’s training regimen and life experiences, he knew what he was talking about.
#7: "Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."
With experience comes a greater understanding of yourself and your personal goals. For someone as motivated as Muhammad Ali, the word “impossible” was just that – a word. So this quote promotes a progressive outlook towards life; one that can’t be minimized by cheap talk and a fatalist attitude. By using the words “potential” and “temporary,” Ali captures not only the spirit of his profession and his rise to glory, but also the day-to-day grind that may feel overwhelming or impossible to overcome. Even when Ali seemed to be the underdog – which didn’t happen often – you could never count him out.
#6: "I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked."
One of the biggest misconceptions about boxing is that it’s all about violence and knockouts. But Muhammad Ali would change perceptions of the sport for ‘60s and ‘70s pop culture, as he tried to minimize his lickings to keep his career ticking. This quote is more than just talk, as Ali was infamous for his “Rope-a-Dope” technique, which worked wonders for him in the latter part of his career. In his early years, though, Ali’s speed and agility kept opponents at bay, and he was never – EVER – knocked out during his professional career.
#5: "I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."
Everybody deals with personal insecurities at some point in life. With this quote, Muhammad Ali shows us that validation comes from within. He would often boast about being “The Greatest,” and considering the fruits of his labor, he made it easy for people to believe him. He understood the essence of “The Sweet Science,” and his exceptional self-motivation helped him flourish during those moments of adversity – moments that could seem overwhelming to those lacking in self-confidence. But not Ali, as he believed in himself first and foremost, allowing the world to believe in his talent.
#4: “I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning and thrown thunder in jail.”
With his smooth lyrical cadence, Muhammad Ali took a metaphorical approach while discussing his life-long battles. It went down before his legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” bout versus George Foreman, and the collective poem speaks volumes about Ali’s media appeal during his prime. In other words, some fighters perform, while others perform with a purpose – and these words capture the inner spirit Ali conveyed so beautifully and eloquently. Although the full quote is directly connected to a legendary pop culture event, each passage remains relevant decades later.
#3: “It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am."
Muhammad Ali understood the performance aspect of his profession. Though he enjoyed himself in the ring, he also undoubtedly had fun while speaking with the media. But this quote carries a higher truth, as Ali proved himself to actually be the “The Greatest,” and most certainly in terms of boxing’s role in pop culture. He balanced the line between arrogance and entertainment, leaving the public to look beyond his bravado and recognize the true brilliance of both his words and ability to back them up. Even if the world didn’t always understand Ali, Ali always understood who he wanted to be.
#2: "Don't count the days. Make the days count."
Well beyond his last professional fight, Muhammad Ali remained an inspirational and highly relevant figure across the globe. But long before his 2016 death, this brief yet poignant quote zeroed in on a fundamental truth: tomorrow is never promised. It’s one of those quotes that can be easily taken for granted or said during difficult times, but it strips life down to the core, reminding you of the sacrifices Ali made in his personal and professional life. With that in mind, this quote undoubtedly takes on a greater meaning.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Live everyday as if it were your last, because someday you're going to be right.”
"A man who has no imagination has no wings."
#1: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
At only 18 years of age, Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali won a Gold Medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Four years later, he became the heavyweight champ of the world. 10 years later, Ali gave us this epic quote before fighting George Foreman; a quote defining the skill set that separated him from his peers. On paper, it’s poetic – and when spoken by Muhammad Ali, it’s a phrase that combines his poetry in motion with his technique in the ring. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a quote referencing the natural aggression of boxing, yet also reminding us of the artistry exemplified by Ali time and time again.
So, do you agree with our selections? What’s your favorite Muhammad Ali quote? For more inspirational Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.