Muhammad Ali's Most Memorable Quotes: 'Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee'

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"

ByABC News
June 4, 2016, 12:37 AM

— -- One of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing, three-time heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali charmed millions with his wit and confidence in the ring and inspired many more with his commitment to humanitarian causes. Here's a look at some of his most memorable quotes.

'Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee'

The brash, underdog Muhammad Ali promised boxing fans he'd "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" against Sonny Liston. At age 22, he stunned the larger Liston, beating the champ in seven rounds in Miami to win his first heavyweight title. In their next match in 1965, Ali floored Liston with a hard, quick blow minutes into the bout and retained his crown when the referee stopped the fight.

'It Was Like Death. Closest Thing to Dyin' That I Know Of'

Ali went head-to-head with Joe Frazier in a legendary 15-round fight. Frazier was unanimously declared the winner of the bruising bout and succeeded Ali as heavyweight champ. Ali said of the grueling fight, "It was like death. Closest thing to dyin' that I know of."

'Most of Them [Other Boxers] … Can Fight Almost as Good as I Can. I'm Just Saying You Never Heard of Them. And the Reason for That Is Because They Cannot Throw the Jive.'

Weeks after the 1960 Olympics, Ali signed a lucrative contract and won his first pro bout on Oct. 29, 1960, against Tunney Hunsaker. Ali quickly ingratiated himself with the media with his boastful claims and fresh, stylish way of speaking. He told Sports Illustrated in 1961: "Most of them [other boxers] … can fight almost as good as I can. I'm just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody."

'What's my name, fool? What's my name?'

[to Ernie Terrell, who refused to call him Muhammad Ali]

Ernie Terrell and Ali fought in what was dubbed the "What's My Name Fight?" in 1967. The bout received that name after Terrell refused to call Ali by his new name. Ali was born Cassius Clay.

"If I was going to fight him, then I would call him Clay. If he don't like it, so? I did it on purpose. We were fighting. What was I supposed to do, give him Christmas gifts?" Terrell said of the fight in an interview with USA Today in 2009.