Oprah: Do you remember how you felt the first time, at the age of 12, when you stepped into the ring?

Muhammad: I was nervous and scared. I was shaking.

Oprah: Did you go back the next night?

Muhammad: Yes—every night for a month. I loved it.

Oprah: After the Golden Gloves and the Olympics, did you think you'd box for the rest of your life?

Muhammad: My father and mother were poor, and when I turned pro, I started making money. There was a show on television where boxers could make $4,000 for a fight.

Oprah: When you first realized you had potential as a boxer, were you thinking, "I am the greatest"?

Muhammad: I wasn't thinking of being the greatest. But I knew I had a chance. I don't want to brag.

Oprah: Go ahead and brag! I remember that Sonny Liston fight, and what we, as Negroes, were all thinking. Black and white folks were betting against you because nobody had ever seen you do your thing in a national forum. Were you scared?

Muhammad: I was scared to death. Before that fight, I did so much predicting and talked so much that I had to win.

Oprah: Were you pumping yourself up with all that bravado, or did you really believe it?

Muhammad: I really believed it.

Oprah: Time after time, you would call the round in which you'd knock the other guy out—and you'd be right! Did that put pressure on you to call future rounds?

Muhammad: Yes. Twelve times I called the round.

Oprah: With Sonny Liston, you said, "I meant to take him in eight, but I thought I'd send him to heaven in seven."

Muhammad: "I'm the greatest of all time. I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Get ready to rumble, young man, rumble!"

Oprah: Wow. Where did you get that idea?

Muhammad: When I was 9, I saw a wrestler on television named Gorgeous George. He said, "I'm beautiful. I'm so pretty that if a sucker touches my face, I'll kill him. If he messes with my hair, I'll pummel him." I said to myself, "That's a good idea. I am the greatest, I'm pretty." And then I took it a little further than he did.