Ali taunts Sonny Liston, 1965 / Neil Leifer

Ali was the greatest. In a pro career that spanned 1960-81, boxing’s most competitive era, he was a three-time heavyweight world champion. Before that, at only 18, he was the 1960 Olympic light-heavy gold medalist. Ali was an activist, an entertainer, a poet, and an inspiration to people all around the world. He is frequently ranked as not just the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, but the greatest athlete of the 20th century. Throughout his career and until his death in 2016, Ali was also the greatest at serving up motivational quotes—poetic, practical, and insightful—the sort of encouragement that can fuel your toughest workouts, whether in a ring or under a squat bar.

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

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.

Ali shadow boxing 1961
Shadow boxing, 5th Street Gym, Miami, 1961 / Flip Schulke

I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.

Ali punches bag 1870
Hitting the heavy bag, 5th Street Gym, Miami, 1970 / AP

Don’t count the days. Make the days count.

Impossible is just a 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 potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

Ali dodges punch from Frazier 1971
Ali dodges a punch from Joe Frazier, 1971 / Bettman: Getty Images open edition

Don’t count the days. Make the days count.

If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.

A man who has no imagination has no wings.

Ali running 1974
Ali running at dawn, Pennsylvania, 1974, preparing for 2nd Frazier fight / Peter Angelo Simon

The will must be stronger than the skill.

I don’t count the sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count. That’s what makes you a champion.

See also: Workout Motivation from BRUCE LEE and Workout Motivation from ANCIENT GREECE