The Center for Interfaith Relations is revisiting Festival of Faiths catalogues in search of insight, wisdom and inspiration. Our hope is that these written words will spur meaningful reflection and serve as a beacon of hope amid challenging times.

Muhammad Ali’s Core Principles

From the 2017 Festival of Faiths, “Compassion: Shining Like the Sun”

Muhammad Ali’s journey as a Black man in America, heavyweight champion, and international humanitarian was guided by his core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality.


Belief in oneself, one’s abilities, and one’s future.

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

“My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am.”

“Whatever the challenge was, however unattainable the goal may have seemed, I never let anyone talk me out of believing in myself.”


A firm belief that gives one the courage to stand behind that belief, despite pressure to do otherwise.

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to the belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

“All my life, if I wanted to do something, I studied those who were good at it; then I memorized what I learned, and believed that I could do it too. Then I went out and did it.”


The act of devoting all of one’s energy, effort, and abilities to a certain task.

“What keeps me going is goals.”

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside – a desire, a dream, and a vision. They have found the skill and the will.”


To present voluntarily without expect something in return.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

“I wanted to use my fame and this face that everyone knows so well to help uplift and inspire people around the world.”


Esteem for, or a sense of the worth or excellence of, oneself and others.

“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.”

“When a man of great wealth and fame speaks out and tells the truth, he risks losing everything that he’s worked for, possibly his life, but he helps millions.”


A sense of awe, reverence, and inner peace inspired by a connection to all of creation and/or that which is greater than oneself.

“The only thing that matters is submitting to the will of God.”

“Allah’s the Arabic term for God. Stand up for God, fight for God, work for God and do the right thing and go the right way, things will end up in your corner.”

“We can never pray enough, or give enough, or share enough, or care about the world enough, and we could never love enough to repay God for His gifts to us.”