Muhammad Ali's talent wasn't confined to the ring. He also possessed one of the deepest minds and sharpest tongues in sporting history.

Here's a collection of the American legend's most memorable, funny, witty, profound and inspiring one-liners, following his death at the age of 74 today.

ON HIMSELF

"I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest."

"I'm young; I'm handsome; I'm fast. I can't possibly be beat."

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"It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am."

"I'm the most recognised and loved man that ever lived"

"If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologise."

"I've wrestled with alligators. I've tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning and throw thunder in jail. You know I'm bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."

ON GOLF

"I'm the best. I just haven't played yet" - Ali on golf.

ON BOXING

"Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee, your hands can't hit, what the eyes can't see."

"It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion'."

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision."

"If you dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologise."

"Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up."

"When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace."

"If you sign to fight me, you need speed and endurance but what you need most is to increase your insurance"

ON HIS RIVALS

"(Joe) Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wildlife."

"Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head."

"I always bring out the best in men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him."

"I've seen George Foreman shadow boxing. And the shadow won."

"Now you see me, now you don't. George thinks he will, but I know he won't!"

"That all you got George?" - Ali to Foreman during the Rumble in the Jungle.

Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott after he knocked out challenger Sonny Liston in the first round of their title fight in Lewiston, Maine in 1965. Photo / AP
Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott after he knocked out challenger Sonny Liston in the first round of their title fight in Lewiston, Maine in 1965. Photo / AP

"He's (Sonny Liston) too ugly to be the world champ. The world champ should be pretty like me!"

"Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can't talk. The man can't fight. The man needs talking lessons. The man needs boxing lessons. And since he's gonna fight me, he needs falling lessons."

ON LIFE

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

"The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."

"Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don't let yourself believe it will happen to you."

"The man who has no imagination has no wings."

"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life"

"If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it - then I can achieve it."

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

"At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far."

"Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn't matter which colour does the hating. It's just plain wrong."

"Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you're going to be right."