The sports world hasn't just lost one of its greatest athletes in history, it lost its biggest character. From the moment Muhammad Ali burst onto the national scene at the 1960 Summer Games in Rome, he was unlike any other sporting figure: brash and cocky, but with a mouth and a brain to match his stunning natural abilities.
Twenty years before The Super Bowl Shuffle, 30 years before Shaquille O'Neal's short-lived rap career, Ali was sports' first hip-hop poet. He was the first trash-talker whose taunts made more news than his opponents did. He was quick and witty, opinionated and insightful, and he never held anything back.
Here are some of his classic quips:
"When you come to the fight, don't block the halls and don't block the door; for y'all may go home after round four."-- On opponent Archie Moore, 1962
"I'll beat him so bad, he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on."-- On opponent Floyd Patterson, 1965
"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."-- On his name change, 1965
"I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong."-- On hearing he would be drafted, 1967
"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."-- On losing the first of his two fights with Ken Norton, 1973
"You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned? Wait till I whup George Foreman's behind."-- Before the famed "Rumble in the Jungle" bout, 1974
"I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."-- Also before the Rumble in the Jungle
"Howard Cosell was gonna be a boxer when he was a kid -- only they couldn't find a mouthpiece big enough."-- On the ABC broadcaster and his good friend, 1974
"It'll be a killa and a chilla and a thrilla when I get the gorilla In Manila."-- Before his bout with Joe Frazier, 1975
"I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free."-- On racial inequality, in a Playboy interview, 1975
"It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."-- On his line of work, in a New York Times interview, 1977
"Superman don't need no seat belt."-- On special treatment, spoken to a flight attendant who insisted he buckle up (the flight attendant supposedly replied, "Superman don't need no airplane, either")
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see."-- The Greatest of All Time