Muhammad Ali dead: 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee' and the iconic boxer's other famous poems

Ali died on Friday at the age of 74

Dan Gelston
Saturday 04 June 2016 12:39
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Muhammad Ali in 1963, holding up five fingers to predict how many rounds it will take him to beat British boxer Henry Cooper
Muhammad Ali in 1963, holding up five fingers to predict how many rounds it will take him to beat British boxer Henry Cooper

Muhammad Ali enlivened many of his news conferences and training sessions with poems. They caused many people to laugh, some to cringe.

Ali could be Robert Frost in a robe, or Maya Angelou with a championship belt, though his sometimes simplistic stanzas often leaned more towards something out of a Dr Seuss book. He was a true beat poet - in as much as he loved having a rhyme to have a reason to thump his latest rival.

These helped make Ali one of the poet laureates of boxing.

Muhammad Ali dies- Boxing world pays tribute to 'The Greatest'

In 1962, when Ali was still Cassius Clay

“Everyone knew when I stepped in town,

I was the greatest fighter around.

A lot of people called me a clown,

But I am the one who called the round.

The people came to see a great fight,

But all I did was put out the light.

Never put your money against Cassius Clay,

For you will never have a lucky day."

Before his upset title victory over Sonny Liston in February 1964.

“Now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing.

And the punch raises the Bear clear out of the ring.

Liston is still rising, and the ref wears a frown.

For he can't start counting 'til Sonny comes down.

Now Liston disappears from view.

The crowd is getting frantic,

But our radar stations have picked him up. He's somewhere over the Atlantic.

Who would have thought when they came to the fight

That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite.

Yes, the crowd did not dream when they lay down their money

That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

I am the greatest"

Muhammad Ali, landing a right to Sonny Liston's body during the World Heavyweight Championship fight at Miami Beach Convention Hall, USA, on 25th February 1964

Before losing to Joe Frazier in their first fight, March 1971.

“Joe's gonna come out smokin',

But I ain't gonna be jokin'.

This might shock and amaze ya,

But I'm going to destroy Joe Frazier"

Joe Frazier (L) fighting against against Muhammad Ali at the Madison Square Garden, in New York on March 8 1971.

Before regaining the title by upsetting George Foreman in October 1974.

"You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?

Wait 'til I whup George Foreman's behind.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

His hand can't hit what his eyes can't see.

Now you see me, now you don't.

George thinks he will, but I know he won't.

I done wrassled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale.

Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick.

I'm so mean, I make medicine sick"

30 October 1974: Arguably Ali's finest hour came in 1974 when he fought George Foreman in the 'Rumble in the Jungle'. Ali spent eight rounds leaning back on the ropes, a tactic he called 'rope-a-dope'

To Larry Holmes before his loss in October 1980.

"I got speed and endurance.

You'd better increase your insurance"

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