Sports Figures Quotations

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) / 1942–2016 / Kentucky, USA / Boxing

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.

Source: Various news reports prior to then-Clay’s heavyweight title bout against Sonny Liston on February 24, 1964.

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

Source: Interview, Playboy magazine, November, 1975.

I hated every minute of it [training]. But I said to myself, ‘Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.

Source: Interview, Newsweek, September 25,1978.

Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.

Source: Interview, Jet magazine, August, 1992.

If Ali says a mosquito can pull a plow, don’t ask how. Hitch him up.

source: Interview, Time magazine, June 14, 1999.

Religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths. … I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things.

Source: Interview, CNN, September 20, 2001.

Allah is the Greatest. I’m just the greatest boxer.

Source: Interview,, April 3, 2002.

Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn’t belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.

Source: The Soul of a Butterfly (2004).


Tom Brady (Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.) / (b. 1977) / California, USA / Football

I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition—if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game. 

Source: Instagram post, February 1, 2022.

I believe that what we get out of our bodies is a direct result of what we put in. I (mostly) follow a plant-based diet of whole foods that helps my body stay in balance and limits additional inflammation. I try to surround myself with positive people, and I work to minimize distractions whenever possible. My lifestyle has helped me stay physically and mentally fit.

Source: (2017).

When things don’t go your way—or, rather, what you don’t think of as your way—there can be a variety of opportunities that may not be obvious in the moment but that through hard work, preparation, and persistence can present themselves over time and make you better.

Source: The TB12 Method (2017).

You can make life a lot harder for yourself by focusing on negative things in your path or making excuses for why things didn’t go your way. Or, you can refuse to take things personally, let them go, learn from them, and become the best version of yourself. It’s a choice. It’s actually your choice.

Source: The TB12 Method (2017).

Wisdom, someone said, is about knowing the difference between the things you can control and the things you can’t. Today, if things go my way, great; and if they don’t, that’s okay, too, since I always have the chance to overcome them in the future. Whenever my team loses a game, it’s an opportunity to learn something. A game is always an experiment.

Source: The TB12 Method (2017).


Wayne Gretzky / b. 1961 / Ontario, Canada / Ice Hockey

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Source: Interview, Hockey News, 1983.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

Source: Numerous interviews; inspired by Gretzky’s father, Walter Gretzky.

The highest compliment that you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.

Source: Attribution unconfirmed.

No matter who you are, we’re creatures of habit. The better your habits are, the better they will be in pressure situations.

Source: Attribution unconfirmed.

You know, I’ve held women and babies and jewels and money, but nothing will ever feel as good as holding that Cup.

Source: Attribution unconfirmed.


Michael Jordan / b. 1963 / New York, USA / Basketball

 I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

Source: I Can’t Accept Not Trying (1994).

Enjoy every minute of life. Never second-guess life.

Source: How to Be Like Mike (2005).

Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.

Source: Address upon induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 2009.

I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers—who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all—are respected and supported.

Source: (previously, The Undefeated), July 25, 2016.


Satchel Paige / 1906–1982 / Alabama, USA / Baseball

There ain’t no man can avoid being born average. But there ain’t no man got to be common.

Source: Lincoln Evening Journal and Nebraska State Journal, July 26, 1958.

Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.

Source: New York Post, October 4, 1959.

Avoid running at all times. And don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.

Source: Collier’s Magazine, June 13, 1953.

I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.

Source: New York Times, June 9, 1982.

They said I was the greatest pitcher they ever saw… I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t give me no justice

Source: New York Times, June 9, 1982.


Ruth, Babe (George Herman Ruth, Jr.) / 1895–1948 / Maryland, USA / Baseball

I’m afraid that someday I’ll kill some pitcher. It is one thing I’ve always dreaded. My heart stood still in that game in Detroit when I almost got Ehmke with that drive through the box. I thought for a certainty that the ball would hit him before he got his hands up to protect himself. A couple of pitchers have asked me not to hit the ball back at them, and I always try not to. Why should I try to hurt any ball players? We are all out there trying to make a living, and no man worthwhile would deliberately try to injure another.

Source: The Louisville Courier-Journal, July 18, 1920.

I always swing at the ball with all my might. I hit or miss big and when I miss I know it long before the umpire calls a strike on me, for every muscle in my back, shoulders and arms is groaning, “You missed it.” And be­lieve me, it is no fun to miss a ball that hard. Once I put myself out of the game for a few days by a miss like that.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, August 13, 1920.

It just goes to show that people take a lot of things for granted. They don’t observe things closely, particularly things about which they feel confident.

Source: Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball, Chapter 1 (1928).

For ball players know that it isn’t individuals who count. It’s the way a team plays as a whole that determines its offensive power or its defensive strength. Smart ball players and smart managers consider offense and defense as units, knowing that it takes nine men to do the fielding and nine hitters to make up a batting order that will score runs.

Source: Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball, Chapter 2 (1928).

Pitchers—real pitchers— know that their job isn’t so much to keep opposing batsmen from hitting as it is to make them hit it at someone. The trouble with most kid pitchers is that they forget there are eight other men on the team to help them. They just blunder ahead, putting everything they have on every pitch and trying to carry the weight of the whole game on their shoulders. The result is that they tire out and go bad along in the middle of the game, and then the wise old heads have to hurry out and rescue them. I’ve seen a lot of young fellows come up, and they all had the same trouble. Take Lefty Grove over at Philadelphia, for instance. There isn’t a pitcher in the league who has more speed or stuff than Lefty. He can do things with a baseball that make you dizzy. But when he first came into the league he seemed to think that he had to strike out every batter as he came up. The result was he’d go along great for five or six innings, and then blow. And he’s just now learning to conserve his strength. In other words, he’s learning that a little exercise of the noodle will save a lot of wear and tear on his arm.

Source: Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball, Chapter 3 (1928).

Baseball always has been and always will be a game demanding team play. You can have the nine greatest individual ball players in the world, but if they don’t play together the club won’t be worth a dime.

Source: Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball, Chapter 10 (1928).

 I have only have one superstition: I make sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.

Source: Attribution unconfirmed.