Muhammad Ali Quotes 1–30 of 58 Quotes

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., 17 January 1942 - 3 June 2016) was an American legendary boxer, philanthropist and activist. who was the Heavyweight Champion of the World three times between 1964 and 1979.

Below are 30 of 58 sourced Muhammad Ali quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Archie's been living off the fat of the land. I'm here to give him his pension plan. When you come to the fight don't block the door. 'Cause you'll all go home after round four.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Before his fight with Archie Moore (1962), as quoted in "Muhammad Ali was also great for civil rights" by Mark Wiedmer, in Times Free Press (17 January 2012)

“Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat, if Liston goes back an inch farther he'll end up in a ringside seat. Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right, Look at young Cassius carry the fight Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room, It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom. Now Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing, And the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring. Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown, For he can't start counting till Sonny goes down. Now Liston is disappearing from view, the crowd is going frantic, But radar stations have picked him up, somewhere over the Atlantic. Who would have thought when they came to the fight? That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite. Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money, That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.”

— Muhammad Ali

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More on this quote: Poem composed prior to his match with Sonny Liston, in 1963, as quoted in "Brash Clay waxed poetic in 1963 visit to Nashville" by Bill Traughber in Nashville's The CIty Paper (4 June 2002)
• Variant transcription: Who would have thought, when they came to the fight,
that they'd witness a launchin' of a black satellite.

“This is the legend of Cassius Clay, The most beautiful fighter in the world today. He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y, Of a muscular punch that's incredibly speed-y. The fistic world was dull and weary, But with a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary. Then someone with color and someone with dash, Brought fight fans a-runnin' with cash. This brash young boxer is something to see And the heavyweight championship is his destiny.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: "I am the Greatest" (1964)

“I am the man this poem’s about, I’ll be champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt. Here I predict Mr. Liston’s dismemberment, I’ll hit him so hard; he’ll wonder where October and November went. When I say two, there’s never a third, Standin against me is completely absurd. '''When Cassius says a mouse can outrun a horse, Don’t ask how; put your money where your mouse is! ''I AM THE GREATEST!'''''”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: "I am the Greatest" (1964)

“I knew I had him in the first round. Almighty God was with me. I want everyone to bear witness, I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I don't have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest. I showed the world. I talk to God everyday. I know the real God. I shook up the world, I'm the king of the world. You must listen to me. I am the greatest! I can't be beat!”

— Muhammad Ali

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More on this quote: After defeating Sonny Liston for the first time (25 February 1964) as quoted in Sound and Fury : Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship (2007) by Dave Kindred, p. 58
• Variant transcription: I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I'm so great I don't have a mark on my face. I shook up the world.
 • As quoted in "When Clay shook up the world" (24 February 2004)

“My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. ... Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

— Muhammad Ali

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More on this quote: Regarding the Vietnam War and conscription (1967)
• Part of this is frequently paraphrased out of context as: No VietCong/Vietnamese ever called me [a] nigger, perhaps due to 1968 documentary film with that title, as documented in Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1993) by Ralph Keyes and in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006) by Fred R. Shapiro.

“I'm not gonna help nobody get something my negroes don't have. If I'm gonna die, I'll die now right here fighting you, if I'm gonna die. You my enemy. My enemies are white people, not Viet Congs or Chinese or Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. You won't even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won't even stand up for me here at home.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Regarding the Vietnam War and conscription (1967)

“I think Terrell will catch hell at the sound of the bell. He's going around saying that he's a championship-fighter, but when he meets me he fall 20 pound lighter. He thinks that he's the real heavy weight champ but when he meets me, he'll just be a tramp Now I'm not sayin' just to be funny, but I'm fightin' Ernie because he needs the money.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: About Ernie Terrell before their February 1967 boxing match, - (YouTube video

“All kinds of things set us back, but life goes on. You don’t shoot yourself. Soon this will be old news. People got lives to live, bills to pay, mouths to feed. Maybe a plane will go down with ninety people on it. Or a great man will be assassinated. That will be more important than Ali losing. I never wanted to lose, never thought I would, but the thing that matters is how you lose. I’m not crying. My friends should not cry.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Press conference, March 9, 1971, following his defeat by Joe Frazier, quoted in The Intercept, June 6, 2016

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“I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Statement before his fight with George Foreman (31 March 1973)

“Last night I had a dream, When I got to Africa, I had one hell of a rumble. I had to beat Tarzan’s behind first, For claiming to be King of the Jungle. For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning And throw thunder in jail. You know I’m bad. just last week, I murdered a rock, Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick. I’m so fast, man, I can run through a hurricane and don't get wet. When George Foreman meets me, He’ll pay his debt. I can drown the drink of water, and kill a dead tree. Wait till you see Muhammad Ali.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: A poem about his match with George Foreman, known as the Rumble in the Jungle (1974)

“I've got a lot of white associates. Elijah Muhammad, is the one who preached that the white man of America, number one, is the Devil. He's been preaching — he never mentioned England. England's people have never lynched us, raped us, castrated us, tarred and feathered us, burned us up, pulled our sockets apart, stick knives in pregnant women's stomachs, enslaved us, rob us of our names, our knowledge, our — Elijah Mohammad's been preaching that the white man of America – God taught him – is the blue-eyed, blond-headed Devil! No good in him, no justice, he's gonna be destroyed! His rule is over. He is the Devil!”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: interview with Michael Parkinson (1974), quoted in Adam Lusher, "'The white man is the devil' – what the Nation of Islam taught Muhammad Ali", _The Independent_ (June 5, 2016)

“If you were surprised when Nixon resigned, just watch what happens when I whup Foreman's behind!”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Comment prior to the "Rumble in the Jungle" (30 October 1974) as documented in When We Were Kings (1996)

“You been hearing about how bad I am since you were a little kid with mess in your pants! Tonight, I'm gonna whip you till you cry like a baby.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: To George Foreman before the start of the "Rumble in the Jungle" as the referee is giving them instructions (30 October 1974).

“That's the only way you gonna save this sucker. He's doomed.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Comment prior to the "Rumble in the Jungle" about George Foreman prior to the fight, when referee Clayton warned Ali that if he didn't stop talking he would stop the fight. (30 October 1974)

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

— Muhammad Ali

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Quote source: Interview in Playboy magazine (November 1975)

“I hated every minute of it. But I said to myself, 'Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion'.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#18

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#18

Quote source: On training, as quoted in "Ali: Born Again!" by Pete Axthelm and Peter Bonventre, Newsweek (25 September 1978)

“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#19

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#19

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#19

Quote source: As quoted in Jet magazine Vol. 58, No. 1 (August 1992)

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“If Ali says a mosquito can pull a plow, don't ask how. Hitch him up.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#21

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#21

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#21

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#21

Quote source: As quoted in "Muhammad Ali" by George Plimpton in "The TIME 100" in TIME (14 June 1999)

“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.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#22

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#22

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#22

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#22

More on this quote: When asked how he felt about the suspects in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sharing his Islamic faith
• As quoted in "Bush: 'Justice Will Be Done'" at CNN (20 September 2001)

“What's really hurting me, the name Islam is involved, and Muslim is involved and causing trouble and starting hate and violence. … Islam is not a killer religion. … Islam means peace, I couldn't just sit home and watch people label Muslims as the reason for this problem.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#23

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#23

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#23

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#23

Quote source: As quoted in "Muhammad Ali Defends His Religion" by Lisa L. Colangelo and Clem Richardson in New York Daily News (21 September 2001), p. 34

“I'm retiring because there are more pleasant things to do than beat up people.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#24

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Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#24

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#24

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#24

Quote source: As quoted in Secrets of Power Persuasion for Salespeople (2003) by Roger Dawson , p. 192

“It's a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#25

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#25

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#25

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#25

Quote source: As quoted in 101 Best Ways to Get Ahead (2004) edited by Michael E. Angier, with Sarah Pond, p. 59

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

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#26

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#26

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#26

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#26

Quote source: As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)

“Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wildlife.”

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#27

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#27

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#27

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#27

Quote source: As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)

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

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#28

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#28

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#28

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#28

Quote source: As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)

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

— Muhammad Ali

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Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#29

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#29

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#29

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html#29

Quote source: As quoted in "Ali's Quotes" at BBC Sport : Boxing (17 January 2007)

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Ali, Muhammad (2021, August 5) Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html

MLA Citation: Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Ali, Muhammad. “Muhammad Ali Quotes: 1–30 of 58 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Muhammad-Ali-quotes.html

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