- 1Up 47Down 10Prior to fighting George Foreman on October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali read this poem as part of the build-up for the fight known as "The Rumble in the Jungle." Ali won the fight in the eighth round, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing.
"Last night I had a dream, When I got to Africa,
I had one hell of a rumble.
I had to beat Tarzan’s behind first,
For claiming to be King of the Jungle.
For this fight, 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, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.
I’m so fast, man,
I can run through a hurricane and don't get wet.
When George Foreman meets me,
He’ll pay his debt.
I can drown the drink of water, and kill a dead tree.
Wait till you see Muhammad Ali."
- 2Up 18Down 4Speaking to his players prior to a game at the 1980 Winter Olympics, legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks inspired his squad to complete the impossible and beat the dominant Soviet team. They did just that, completing the "Miracle on Ice" and went on to win the gold medal. Though the original speech was done in a private locker room, in the 2004 film Miracle, Kurt Russell recreated the speech.
"Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game; if we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can. Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players—every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it!"
- 3Up 15Down 3Showing strength and optimism in the face of adversity, baseball legend Lou Gehrig gave the famous "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech during a New York Yankees game on July 4, 1939, which was also deemed Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Only days earlier, the six-time World Series champion had retired from the game after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans... So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you."
- 4Up 11Down 2
Jimmy ValvanoAppearing at the first ESPY Awards on March 3, 1993, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano gave an emotional and motivational speech while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. Valvano was suffering from cancer at the time, announcing The V Foundation and urging everyone to laugh, think and cry everyday, words that also appeared on his tombstone after he lost his battle with cancer less than two months later.
"Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all."
- 5Up 16Down 7On September 17, 2001, less than a week after the country was shook by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck recited a heartfelt poem to the crowd at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Titled For America, Buck read the emotional poem to open the game, which was the first since the attacks.
"Since this nation was founded under
God, more than 200 years ago,
We've been the bastion of
The light which keeps the free world
We do not covet the possessions of
Others, we are blessed with the
Bounty we share.
We have rushed to help other
Nations... anything... anytime...
War is just not our nature... we
Won't start, but we will end the fight.
If we are involved we shall be
Resolved to protect what we know is
We've been challenged by a
Cowardly foe, who strikes and then
Hides from our view.
With one voice we say there's no
Choice today, there is only one
Thing to do.
Everyone is saying the same thing
And praying that we end these
Senseless moments we are living.
As our fathers did before, we shall
Win this unwanted war.
And our children will enjoy the
F*ture, we'll be giving."
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