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The Life Of Muhammad Ali, In His Own Words

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As we've been hearing today, thousands of people have gathered in Louisville, Ky., to remember boxer Muhammad Ali, who died last week at the age of 74. So we've been listening back to Ali in his own words.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In the fall of 1974, Ali was preparing to face George Foreman in a championship fight in Zaire, the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was the so-called Rumble in the Jungle. Ali was the underdog against the much younger Foreman. But ahead of the fight, he was all confidence as captured in the documentary "When We Were Kings."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "WHEN WE WERE KINGS")

MUHAMMAD ALI: I have wrestled with a alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. That's bad. Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I'm so mean I make medicine sick.

(LAUGHTER)

ALI: Fast, fast, fast - last night I cut the light off in my bedroom - hit the switch, was in the bed before the room was dark.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Incredible.

ALI: Fast...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Incredible.

ALI: And you, George Foreman - all you chumps are going to bow when I whoop him, all of you. I know you've got him. I know you've got him picked. But the man's in trouble. I'm going to show you how great I am.

SIEGEL: That was Muhammad Ali in 1974. As it turned out, he had a reason to be confident. Ali went on to knockout Foreman in the eighth round of that fight. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.