Muhammad Ali – the Greatest

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was a champion boxer, and truly inspiring individual. One of those rare people who everyone feels a connection with.

Sri Chinmoy said to Muhammad Ali:

“You are changing the face and fate of mankind. Your very name encourages and inspires. As soon as people hear ‘Muhammad Ali,’ they are inspired. They get tremendous joy. They get such dynamism to be brave and face ignorance. Your very name does that. That’s why I am so grateful to you, so proud of you.”

– Sri Chinmoy (Sept 1977, during meeting with Muhammad Ali, New York.)

I have watched quite a few youtube videos where Michael Parkinson interviewed Muhammad Ali, and I get so much joy watching them.

If anyone else had been saying the same words “I am the greatest” it might have fallen flat and you thought the person arrogant, but with Ali, his self-belief and deeply held convictions were infectious. I think it was because underneath the bravado, you knew this was a deeply courageous and good person.

US President Barack Obama said of Ali:

“Ali shook up the world – and the world is better for it,” Obama said.

“He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing,” Obama added.

I  admire Ali for refusing to fight because it was against his principles – no matter what the personal cost. This is true courage, more so than going into a boxing ring.


Muhammad Ali Quotes

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

1. On his arrogance

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

2. On Golf

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

3. On opponents

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

4. 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.

Seat belt story

A friend of Ali once told this humorous story of Ali. He explained that when the pair had been boarding a flight from Washington to New York, a flight attendant asked:

“Mr Ali; please buckle your seatbelt.”

Muhammad Ali responded:

“Superman don’t need no seatbelt.”

The air stewardess replied sweetly:

“Mr Ali, Superman don’t need no plane.”

Hauser said of the speech he gave: “When I retold that story, Muhammad’s face lit up and he laughed as hard as anyone in the audience.”

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said:

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times.

Who was humorous and who treated everyone right.

As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him.

And who helped as many people as he could.

As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what.

As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people.

And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”