A small selection of Muhammad Ali’s greatest one-liners

Muhammad Ali, boxing legend, the Greatest of All Time, has died at the age of 74.

The three-time heavyweight champion of the world was infamous for his braggadocio and wit, and is one of the most quoted sportsmen in history.

His pre-fight trashtalk was divisive causing some bitter rivalries, particularly with Joe Frazier, but it can’t be denied that he came up with some astounding one-liners and boasts.

As Ali said:

It’s not bragging if you can back it up.

1. On his pre-fight training

I done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator. That’s right. I have wrestled with an alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. That’s bad! Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick! I’m so mean I make medicine sick!

2. On his arrogance

It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.

3. Before fighting Sonny Liston

Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can’t talk. The man can’t fight. The man needs talking lessons. The man needs boxing lessons. And since he’s gonna fight me, he needs falling lessons.

4. After beating Sonny Liston in 1964

I am the greatest, I’m the greatest that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face.

5. On Golf

I’m the best. I just haven’t played yet.

6. On opponents

If you sign to fight me, you need speed and endurance but what you need most is to increase your insurance.

7. On his speed

Last night I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch and was in the bed before the room was dark.

8. On his status

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

9. To sports journalist Howard Cosell

And you’re always talking about, “Muhammad, you’re not the same man you were 10 years ago.” Well, I asked your wife, and she told me you’re not the same man you was two years ago!

10. To Howard Cosell, again

I’m gonna let everybody know that that thing you got on your head is a phony, and it comes from the tail of a pony!

11. On George Foreman

I’ve seen George Foreman shadow boxing. And the shadow won.

12. To George Foreman, lying back on the ropes during the Rumble in the Jungle

That all you got, George?

13. To Joe Frazier

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

Ali later apologised for personal things he had said about Frazier before their fight:

14. To those wishing to fight him

If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologise.

15. On being a champion

Champions have to have the will and the skill, but the will must be stronger than the skill.