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Muhammed Ali

Updated on February 4, 2010

The Greatest!

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942. He is certainly considered one of the world’s greatest heavy weight fighters ever.

He won the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in the light-weight division. He won the lineal heavyweight championship three times and was the first boxer to do so.

Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.

I remember the controversy surrounding his refusal to be inducted into the army in 1967. Many people did not support him in his decision. I remember people commending Elvis for serving and condemning Ali for not. He opposed the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs.

I served in Vietnam but I commend Ali for sticking to God against all odds.

He was arrested. He was found guilty on draft evasion charges. He was stripped of his boxing title. His boxing license was suspended. He appealed and it took the Supreme Court and four years to return him to boxing.

The Greatest by Mickey Dee

He was born to Cassius Marcellus and Odessa Grady Clay.

Little Cassius would grow to be the “Greatest” many would have to say.

This given name came from the 19th century abolitionist.

The name changed to Ali when he proved his mettle with his fists.

He was pushed into boxing by a Louisville cop who was white.

Boxing coach Joe Martin would teach him how to fight

Along with Fred Stoner who also taught him how to strike.

It’s all started out because someone stole his bike.

He rose to professional stardom with help from Angelo Dundee.

His fights were won with hard work that few would ever see.

As an amateur he won two National Golden Gloves.

Boxing might take him higher than any of his other loves.

He won the Olympic Gold Medal, a very incredible feat.

He tossed it in the Ohio River after not being allowed to eat

At an all-white restaurant. They didn’t know his name.

But why should it matter if he had or had not fame.

A fighter named Terrell kept calling Ali, Clay.

But in the ring when it mattered Ali Made him pay.

“What’s my name Uncle Tom”, you could hear Ali say.

He punished and humiliated “Uncle Tom” Terrell that day.

Most boxers put their hands up, Ali carried his down low.

He used his speed and quickness to carry his every blow.

Ali could spin the wrist right at the moment of a strike.

He honed his skills of which there was none the like.

He took the heat, even defeat, and weathered the worst.

Perhaps more than other fighters –perhaps he put God first.

Ali proclaimed himself the “Greatest” as he took on every foe.

He defeated Sonny Liston, George Foreman and even Smokin’ Joe.

He could anger an opponent, sap his energy, and take his hope.

Ali was smart, honed techniques, and used the rope-a-dope.

He floated like a butterfly and he stung worse than a bee.

If you look at all he’s become, the “greatest” may have been Ali!

We all have opinions and surely so do you.

Let's agree Joe and  George were pretty cool too!

Smithsonian Intstitue

Ali Quotes

“My toughest fight was with my first wife.”

“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.”

“I figure I'll be champ for about ten years and then I'll let my brother take over - like the Kennedys down in Washington.”

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

“It's not bragging if you can back it up.”

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

“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”

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

“Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.”

“I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.”

“Superman don't need no seat belt.”

“When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.”

“I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

“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.”

“If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”

“My way of joking is to tell the truth. That's the funniest joke in the world.”


“The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Ali Quotes

“I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.”

“It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

“Religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths. ... I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things.”

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

“It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.”

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.”

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

“Give up what appears to be doubtful for what is certain. Truth brings peace of mind, and deception doubt.”

"It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing.”

“Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer.”

“Love is a net that catches hearts like a fish.”

“Old age is just a record of one's whole life.”

“We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.”

“I'd like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, one tablespoon, teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then, he mix willingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well, then he spreads it over his span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met.”


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    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      3 years ago

      Interesting hub. I admire anyone who can take a punch. It is even smarter if you can dodge one like Muhammad Ali. Hope all is well.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The "Favoite Color" posts are always my faviorte posts. Even though I am partly colorblind, I see in color. I wonder what these all look like to normal people.

    • jandee profile image


      4 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      How I wish Ali would regain his health. I was in seventh heaven when listening to his ranting..


    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      4 years ago

      Thank you jandee! I miss you!

    • jandee profile image


      4 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Micky, just read and enjoyed again.

      I met Joe Frasier a few months before he died . We took a photo of him with our Grandson in Liverpool at the Golden Gloves Boxing Club.

      best to you Micky,


    • jandee profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Good on yer Mickey ! Enjoyed reading 'bout my favourite fighter............He's a 'Scouser'do you know!!?? Ha,ha.

      Just found the 'button' to find your old hubs!Dopey me,

      so chuffed that I can leave a comment,

      keep well Micky.

      best from are well missed!!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      His quotes alone made him a great man. But he stood for real freedom and his spiritual convictions. You know all that Brother Tom BrotherMan! Say hey to Justin for me!

    • justom profile image


      8 years ago from 41042

      I loved Ali from day 1. I think anyone with that kind of talent (and a black man especially) should talk shit. I remember even some of the brothers I went to school with were even taken aback by him. I've had the pleasure of being in his presence twice, the 1st was a sports card show in 1988 where some of baseball's top guys were there (Mickey Mantle-Ernie Banks- Joe DiMaggio-Hank Aaron) and when Ali entered the room every single person stopped what they were doing and gave him a great ovation. It made me proud. The 2nd time was just last year at the Civil Rights baseball game here in Cincinnati and that time made me sad. He's not in very good shape these days. Thank you Micky Dee, Peace!! Tom

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      You do wonder if the paths of our past "leaders" would change for today. I guess he had to play with the cards he was dealt. God bless Loves To Read!

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 

      8 years ago

      Great tribute to a great man Mickey. I wonder if he was a young man now would he follow the same career. Back then he was fighting for his race, colour and status to prove his worth. He wouldn't have to do that now.

      Well done

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Epigramman Man Dude!!! You CRRRACK me up! I just had a glimpse of me in the ring with Ali! Brief! Oh my God how brief! He wouldn't touch me! He's scare me to death! He would look at me and just smile though - I think!

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      here is an interesting paradox: I love boxing and simply adore classical ballet - go figure!

      And I met Muhammed Ali in person and shook his hand - several years ago at a dinner for George Chuvalo (a Canadian heavyweight champion) in Rochester!

      He was in pretty rough shape I thought with his parkinson's disease (I believe that's it) but he leaned forward and whispered into my ear - "I am glad that I never stepped into the ring with Micky Dee"

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Ali is a living legend! You are so right Chris Eddy Dear! He was hard to get to know at first he was trying to serve God as he knew how. Thank you Dear.

    • Chris Eddy111 profile image

      Chris Eddy111 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great hub Micky. I remember watching many of his fights on tv. My family and I would all wait in anticipation to see how he would take out his opponent. That's a living legend right there.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      MFB- I second that promotion!

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 

      8 years ago from United States

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

      I am so grateful that he never hit me,

      those meaty hooks would've smacked me down,

      in about two seconds in the very 1st round.

      no rope a dope would have eased my pain,

      I'd be hung out to dry with a rattled brain,

      sure I've boxed before but there aint no way,

      I'd climb into a ring with Cassius Clay.

      Great Bio MickeyDee~~~MFB III

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for stopping Coolmon. Things are quite different with the sport. I kind of miss all the old names in that sport I suppose. Thank you for coming by and commenting.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Enjoyable reading; seems like something was lost when the era of Ali, Foreman, Frazer and Holmes passed - good article

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Rascal Russ. I appreciate your stopping by. I'm glad you were able to net that 10 to 1 winner. Congrats! Thank you sir!

    • Rascal Russ Miles profile image

      Rascal Russ Miles 

      8 years ago from Show Low, AZ USA

      Hey Micky Dee... Great words about Ali... He made me my 1st 10 to 1 winner when he took out Sonny. Thanks for sharing his wisdom with his words that were funny.

      Great pics too... Thanks

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Mike. We sound a bit alike. I gave up watching all sports until Paul Harvey said one day, "Did you see what Larry Bird did last night"? I then started watching the "Bird", the "Chief" Johnson, Ainge, McHale. They were injured and only five with a shallow bench but played their hearts out. So I've again retired from being a spectator. Thanks

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Truth. I didn't watch much. It's a brutal sport. He and Sugar Ray Leonard were artists of the ring I think. Both seemed to be "straight up" in real life and bigger than life. Thanks

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Thanks, this was a great hub. I don't currently watch much boxing, but I watched when Ali was around. He was a champ in an era of great fighters. Foreman, Frazier, and Ken Norton could box with the best of them. And Ali stood tall above them all.

      Whenever they show Ali fights on ESPN classic, I can't tear myself away. He was so good, I just have to watch.

      Thanks for this wonderful tribute!

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      I love boxing myself, and Ali highlighted one the best era's in the sport. He is a legend, and was extremely entertaining to watch. Thanks.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yes Prettydarkhorse- the Thrilla' (Thriller) in Manilla".

      He was a great fighter. Even the Filipino women? Thanks Maita Stay safe.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      I like the man, I remembered my father told me there was a mall in Manila, Philippines built for him, Ali Mall, biggest mall in the city of Manila (used to be), great boxer, He played and visit philippines in the 70s and fight with Joe Frazier, he won that one,

      and thanks for the tribute, he truly deserve one, Every Filipino love boxing, hehe, Take care, Maita

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for coming by Storytellersrus. He was evidently smart. Too often we can only see one side of a person.

      I'm going through my second childhood. Thank you ma'am.

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      He sounds like an incredibly smart guy from the quotes. All I have read about him are his boxing rants. I really appreciate receiving this intelligence, MD!

      Hey, you were in Vietnam. That I did not know. You always come across as such a young man... at heart evidently. Good for you!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yes sir. I mean- for sure dude - Straight up, you're a great guy. I do, as so many do, think a lot of you. You have great inspirational comments all over the hubs. Thanks for being 50 Caliber and a bit Dusty! Thanks Dusty

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Mickey, I am white haired, but you can drop the formalities I hung my dress blues with all my pinned on rank insignias and ribbons as well as medals, in the back of my closet covered in plastic and the time for formalities has passed until the 21 shots are fired. So friend, just call me Dusty, I'm just a man like you and it's on leg at a time.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Tammy. He was an artist at what he did. I suppose he could have gotten a factory job. He could have been a lot of different things but could he ever have touched as many people? In some ways- he was the greatest! Thank you.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Myownworld. “Religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths. ... I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things.” Thank you.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Mr. Caliber (I like to respect my elders). You're right. I didn't know how to take the brash, young Ali. I've really never been much of a boxing fan really. I no longer look at sports. Gave "looking" up long ago. Had a relapse with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and that crippled Celtic team going against all odds. Too much hype for athletes, movie stars. Soldiers Should have more stardom and warmongers less press. Yes sir, I was giving a man the proper respect.

      Thanks 50 Caliper!

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      I have always had a great affection for this man. I remember the last time I saw him publicly he was so confused...It brought me to tears. Excellent hub and the pictures are beautiful.

    • myownworld profile image


      8 years ago from uk

      As a child even, I knew what a legend Mohammed Ali was. Growing up in a muslim country, I remember how proud people were of him (muslims were a loving tolerant sect then!)...Brilliant tribute to him....loved the quotes at the end! (rated up)

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Mickey, a great hub with an underlay of Faith, little known of Mr.Clay. I remember his bantering with Howard Cosell, I didn't care much for either back then, it seemed so much like bragging to the 3rd degree. When the blanks are filled in and you've been through the fire and have gained understanding it is then you, for the first time, recognize a warrior for what he really was/is. You did a great job framing this Warrior. He earned his place in history. As Cosell said "I'm just telling it like it is"

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by Prasetio. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You had success write all about Muhammad Ali. He is a legend. I like his boxing style. He's nice to remember. I know more about him trough this hub. Thanks Micky.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Creativeone. Take care.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Micky Dee for that very informative and interesting hu on Mauhammed Ali, I really enjoyed all of the information, even some I didn't know.Thanks for sharing Godspeed. creativeone59

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you ma'am. Sure is nice to see you!

    • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

      The IGNITER vs Corrupted Governments 

      8 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

      “We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.”

      Perfectly said and a great hub!


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