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Muhammad Ali in His Own Words


FILE - Spray flies from the head of challenger Joe Frazier as heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali connects with a right in the ninth round of their title fight in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 1, 1974. Ali has died, his family said, June 3, 2016. He was 74.

Muhammad Ali, the American boxer who was one of the world's best known sportsmen, was known as much for his colorful character and his lively public comments as for his competitive spirit in the ring.

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," Ali said, explaining his strategy before his epic fight with George Foreman in 1974. "His hands can't hit what his eyes can't see. Now you see me, now you don't. George thinks he will, but I know he won't.”

That fight in Zaire - now the Democratic Republic of Congo - riveted a worldwide audience. Although Ali was smaller and seven years old than Foreman, he knocked out his undefeated rival and regained the heavyweight boxing title. Ali had lost his champion status years earlier after legal proceedings that followed his refusal to submit to compulsory military service during the U.S. war in Vietnam.

In his later years, Ali said the fight in Zaire - known as the time as "the Rumble in the Jungle" - was the greatest of his career.

“It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am," was a familiar refrain by Ali throughout his career, along with:

"I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."

Here are some of Ali’s other memorable public comments:

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

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

"Don’t count the days; make the days count."

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.”

"A man who has no imagination has no wings."

“Braggin' is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say.”

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

"Live everyday as if it were your last, because someday you're going to be right.”