Ali: In his own words
"When will they ever have another fighter who writes poems, predicts rounds, beats everybody, makes people laugh, makes people cry, and is as tall and extra pretty as me? In the history of the world and from the beginning of time, there's never been another fighter like me. Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest."
"Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it, and I didn't want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name - it means beloved of God - and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me.'"
"I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest."
"I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own."
"If you even dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologise."
"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."
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."
"It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."
"I'm No 1. After me, it don't matter."
"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."
"That all you got, George?" What Ali whispered into George Foreman's ear in a late round clinch during the Rumble in the Jungle.
"I am America. I am the part you won't recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
"I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger."
"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?"
"It will be a killer, and a chiller, and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manila."
"Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head."
"I always bring out the best in men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him."
"I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn't have said. Called him names I shouldn't have called him. I apologise for that. I'm sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight."
"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."
"God's got me here for something. I can feel it. I was born for everything that I'm doing now."
"I'd rather be punished here in this life than the hereafter."
"Life is short; we get old so fast. It doesn't make sense to waste time on hating."
"The words of truth are touching
The voice of truth is deep
The law of truth is simple
All you sow, you reap".
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.