7 Best Quotes By The Legendary Muhammad Ali

7 years after the death of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, here’s a look at some of his most memorable quotes.

7 years after the death of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, here’s a look at some of his most memorable quotes.

Nicknamed “the Greatest”, Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and human rights activist, known for his quick wit (and quick punch), as well as his public devotion and faith in Islam. Converting to Islam in 1960, Muhammad Ali left behind a powerful legacy of activism and charity – and continues to inspire Muslims (and non-Muslims) around the world today.

Passing away on June 3rd, 2016 at the age of 74, Muhammad Ali is remembered not only for his boxing but – arguably more importantly – his profound impact on society through his leading example in faith and activism.

Here are just some of his most famous quotes on race, politics, and faith:

1. “Like Dogs”

When asked why he refused to serve in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, he famously answered in 1966: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

2. “No Black Angels”

One of his most famous quotes – although just a short question – continues to be one of his most memorable. Speaking at a church in 1983, Muhammad Ali asked: “Why are all the angels white? Why ain’t there no black angels?”

Muhammad Ali: In His Daughter’s Eyes (Podcast)

3. “A Slave Name … A Free Name”

Speaking of his name change in 1964 after converting to Islam (Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay), he famously stated: “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me and of me.”

4. “Fight For God”

In a now famous interview with NPR in 2001, Muhammad Ali explained how steady faith and perseverance are essential in showing true devotion: “Allah’s the Arabic term for God. Stand up for God, fight for God, work for God and do the right thing, and go the right way, things will end up in your corner.”

5. “The Only True Satisfaction”

Muhammad Ali spoke candidly about the changes in his life after converting to Islam and after retiring from boxing, stating: “Everything I do now, I do to please Allah. I conquered the world, and it didn’t bring me happiness. The only true satisfaction comes from honoring and worshipping God.”

5 lessons we can learn from the life of Muhammad Ali

6. “A True Muslim”

Although a champion of Black Americans, Muhammad Ali was also one of the most inspiring Muslim figures the US has ever seen – and while being Black and Muslim were almost always intertwined, Muhammad Ali also spoke intimately about what his faith meant to him: “Being a true Muslim is the most important thing in the world to me. It means more to me than being black or being American.”

7. “Not Afraid Of Dying”

Subtly reminding us all of our duty to not shy away from death as Muslims, one of Muhammad Ali’s most important quotes is on death itself: “I’m not afraid of dying. I have faith; I do everything I can to live my life right; and I believe that dying will bring me closer to God.”