By Olaseeni Durojaiye
“Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it.
“Muhammad Ali was the Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail’. But what made the Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.
“Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that the Greatest chose to grace our time.”
– President Barack Obama
“The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss.Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero. We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family.”
– Brazilian soccer great Pelé
“Muhammad Ali was what I call beautiful. He has been something special.
“You know what, I found Muhammad Ali to be one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I got beat up in the jungle. We never had any arguments until we met in the ring that night. I hit him with everything I had, and all he would say is, ‘That all you got, George?’
“What a night. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and myself were one guy – we lived through each other. A big piece of me died when he passed away, and I call it the greatest piece.”
– George Foreman
He’s the most transforming figure of my time. He did more to change race relations … than even Martin Luther King Bob Arum, boxing promoter Bob Arumwho promoted 26 Ali fights,
“He was a champion in the ring, but, more than that, a hero beyond the ring. When champions win, people carry them off the field on their shoulders. When heroes win, people ride on their shoulders. We rode on Muhammad Ali’s shoulders.”
– The Rev Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow Push Coalition and a longtime friend.
“It is with great pain that I received the news of the death of one of the greatest African-American icon of our generation, Muhammad Ali. He may have gone but his many passion and humanitarian services will preserve his memory in my heart for a very long time.
“Ali who at birth was named Cassius Marcellus Clay was not only an enigmatic and colourful boxer, he was also a good and devout Muslim who devoted his life to the worship of Allah. There is no doubt that the fire of black nationalism he contributed immensely to ignite and promote led to the rise of many African-Americans in the context of their country and ultimately to the eventual emergence of President Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States,” Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
“My idol has left us. I will always remember you as the best and will follow your example. Your legend will live forever.” – “A true inspiration for everyone around the world, what a legend, Muhammad Ali.” – Kell Brook
“So sad to hear Muhammad Ali has passed away. Greatest of all times. RIP champ.” – Joe Calzaghe
“RIP Muhammad Ali. The passing of a Legend.” – Carl Froch
“‘The Greatest’ one of the most influential men that ever lived. RIP Muhammad Ali” – Carl Frampton
“RIP The greatest of all times in many different ways.” – Tyson Fury
“It was the biggest honor to meet Muhammad Ali last year at his house, will never forget the Greatest of All Time RIP. In boxing and in life, an inspiration to mankind.” – Gennady Golovkin
“The world has lost an incredible legend. I have lost a phenomenal friend and mentor. Much love.” – Larry Holmes
“Woke up to the sad news Muhammad Ali has passed away. No more suffering for you now champ. R.I.P. It was an honour to (have) met you. Greatest x” – Ricky Hatton
“My heart is deeply saddened, yet both appreciative and relieved that the greatest is now resting in the greatest place.” = Roy Jones Jr.
“He was and still is an inspiration to so many. RIP The Greatest.” – Anthony Joshua
“RIP to the GOAT. A man of character, faith, dignity and professionalism. You’ll continue to inspire us to make this world a better place.” – Wladimir Klitschko
“A giant among men, Ali displayed a greatness in talent, courage & conviction, that most of us will NEVER be able to truly comprehend.” = Lennox Lewis
“Muhammad Ali was a great fighter and an inspirational human being. RIP champ.” – Amir Khan
“Today we lost the greatest sportsman that ever lived.” = Barry McGuigan
“We lost a giant today. You will always be GOAT. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ali family. May God bless them.” – Manny Pacquiao
“Sad news to wake up to, the loss of legend, icon, there will never be another like him in our sport. RIP Ali.” – Liam Smith
“This one hurts. I have so much to say, but don’t know how to say it. But for now, you will be missed & I appreciate you so much.” Andre Ward
Very sad day for all the sport world.The legend of all of sport is gone.Mr Mohammed Ali the greatest of the greatest – Kolo Toure
“Today my heart goes out to a pioneer, a true legend, and a hero by all means! Not a day went by entering the gym that I didn’t think of you. Your charisma, your charm and above all, your class are all of the elements that will be greatly missed by myself and the world. You are someone that inspired me greatly throughout my boxing journey and words cannot express how great you were as a person! Thank you for everything you’ve done for Black America, in the the world of sports & entertainment and for the legacy you leave behind! My sincerest condolences to the Ali family!” -Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Good night my friend. You were great in so many ways – Bill Clinton
‘RIP @muhammadali, a legend who transcended sport and was a true champion for all.’ – Oscar de la HoyaGod came for his champion. So long great one – Mike Tyson
“I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world just to call him my friend. If I was to die today and go to heaven it would be a step down. My heaven was being with Ali.” – former business manager, Gene Kilroy
My Mentor & My Friend. You changed my Life. Rest in Peace. He was the greatest of all time,’ Smith said. ‘When you think about the legacy of Muhammad Ali, what he did in the ring is not what we think about. I got to wear Muhammad Ali’s greatness.
‘He’s a champion for civil rights; he’s a champion for fighting for justice; he’s a champion for utilising whatever tools he has to make the world a better place.’ – Will Smith
“Champions aren’t made in gyms, champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”
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.
“If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologise.”
“I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round. I’m the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skilfullest fighter in the ring today.”
“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?”
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
“The fact is, I was never too bright in school. I ain’t ashamed of it, though. I mean, how much do school principal’s make a month? I said I was ‘The Greatest’, I never said I was the smartest!”
“At home I am a nice guy – but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”
“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.”
“It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”
“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
“Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name, and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me.”
“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.”
“To make America the greatest is my goal, so I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole. And for the USA won the medal of gold. The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old.” After winning Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome.
“Hey Floyd – I seen you! Someday I’m gonna whup you! Don’t you forget, I am the greatest!” To then-world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson during the 1960 Olympic Games.
“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.” Before fighting world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in February 1964.
“I’ll hit Liston with so many punches from so many angles he’ll think he’s surrounded.”
“I shook up the world! I shook up the world!” After beating Liston.
“I’ll beat him so bad, he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.” Before beating Floyd Patterson in 1965.
“You have to give him credit – he put up a good fight for one-and-a-half rounds.” After beating Britain’s Brian London in 1966.
“What’s my name, fool? What’s my name?” To Ernie Terrell during their 1967 fight – Terrell had refused to call him Muhammad Ali.
“I hit Bonavena so hard it jarred his kinfolks all the way back in Argentina.” After beating Oscar Bonavena in December 1970.
“I’ve seen George Foreman shadow boxing and the shadow won.” Before knocking out Foreman in their famed ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ clash in 1974.
“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.” Before the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’
“That all you got, George?” During the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
“Any black person who’s for Joe Frazier is a traitor. The only people rooting for Joe Frazier are white people in suits, Alabama sheriffs and members of the Ku Klux Klan. I’m fighting for the little man in the ghetto.”
“It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller when I get the gorilla in Manila.” Before the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ in 1975.
“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.” After the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, which Ali won.
“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.”
“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”
“Nobody has to tell me that this is a serious business. I’m not fighting one man. I’m fighting a lot of men, showing a lot of ’em, here is one man they couldn’t defeat, couldn’t conquer. My mission is to bring freedom to 30m black people.” Before Ali’s fight against Jerry Quarry in 1970.
“We were brought here 400 years ago for a job. Why don’t we get out and build our own nation and quit begging for jobs? We’ll never be free until we own our own land. We’re 40m people and we don’t have two acres that’s truly ours.”
“I’m gonna fight for the prestige, not for me, but to uplift my little brothers who are sleeping on concrete floors today in America. Black people who are living on welfare, black people who can’t eat, black people who don’t know no knowledge of themselves, black people who don’t have no future.”
“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.” In the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
“I love to see my name where everyone can read it. Someday I’m gonna see it in bright, bright lights.”
“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”
“I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.”