- 1+ 80- 27vPrior 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."
- 2+ 35- 8vSpeaking 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!"
- 3+ 21- 4
Jimmy ValvanovAppearing 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."
- 4+ 21- 6vShowing 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."
- 5+ 20- 10vOn 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."
- 6+ 11- 3vFrail and in pain from nasopharyngeal carcinoma, the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth made one last appearance at Yankee Stadium for "Babe Ruth Day" on April 27, 1947, to give his farewell speech. The Bambino addressed the sell-out crowd of over 60,000 by reflecting on his journey to the big leagues and inspiring generations to follow in his footsteps.
"Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
You know how bad my voice sounds -- well it feels just as bad.
You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys.
And after you're a boy and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in your national pastime, the only real game -- I think -- in the world, baseball.
As a rule, some people think if you give them a football, or a baseball, or something like that -- naturally they're athletes right away.
But you can't do that in baseball.
You've gotta start from way down [at] the bottom, when you're six or seven years of age. You can't wait until you're fifteen or sixteen. You gotta let it grow up with you. And if you're successful, and you try hard enough, you're bound to come out on top -- just like these boys have come to the top now.
There's been so many lovely things said about me, and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to thank everybody.
- 7+ 3- 1vImmortalized in the college football movie "Rudy," Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne is remembered for two notable sports speeches. In addition to his "win one for the Gipper" speech, Rockne gave this memorable and motivational speech during his time coaching the Fighting Irish from 1918 to 1930. During his time with the team, Rockne led Notre Dame to an incredible 105-12-5 record and five national championships.
"Well, boys, I haven't a thing to say. Played a great game ... all of you. Great game. I guess we just can't expect to win 'em all. I'm going to tell you something I've kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. It was long before your time. But you know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock,' he said, 'but I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
"And don't forget, men — today is the day we're gonna win. They can't lick us — and that's how it goes… The first platoon men — go in there and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight! What do you say, men!"
- 8+ 2- 0vFollowing a career with a few speed bumps, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver reflected as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 4, 2007. "The Playmaker" was emotional during the speech as he talked about mistakes he made, his relationship with his family and why no one should ever give up.
"I doubted I would ever have the chance to stand before you today. So when I returned home, I spoke with Michael and Elijah . I said, That's how you do it, son. You do it like they did it. Michael asked, he said, Dad, do you ever think we will be there? And I didn't know how to answer that. And it returned me to that threshing floor. This time I was voiceless, but my heart cried out. God, why must I go through so many peaks and valleys?
I wanted to stand in front of my boys and say, Do it like your dad, like any proud dad would want to. Why must I go through so much?
At that moment a voice came over me and said, Look up, get up, and don't ever give up. You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don't ever give up."
- 9+ 6- 6vEasily considered one of the best National Football League coaches ever, the great Vince Lombardi gave this final speech to his players on the Green Bay Packers prior to Super Bowl II on January 14, 1968. Lombardi's team defeated the Oakland Raiders 33-14 to win their second-consecutive Super Bowl. His legacy was later honored with the Super Bowl trophy being renamed the Lombardi Trophy.
"You are the only team maybe in the history of the National Football League that will ever have this opportunity to do it twice. Boys, if I were you I would be so proud of that I would just fill up. It' not going to come easy. This is a club that's going to hit you. They are going to try and hit you. You are just going to take it out of them, just hit, just run, just block and just tackle. You do that and there is no question what the answer is going to be in this ball game. Keep your poise. There is nothing that they can show you out there you haven't faced a number of times. Right? Right!"
- 10+ 2- 2vTwo years before he'd lead the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup Championship at the age of 37, National Hockey League goaltender Tim Thomas gave this motivational speech at the NHL Awards on June 18, 2009, while accepting the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the league. His rags to riches story was told in the emotional acceptance speech and remembered as one of the best sports speeches of all time.
"I never really allowed myself to believe that I might win because it seemed like such a faraway dream. When you look at the names on the Vezina Trophy, they're legends, and it's humbling to even be mentioned in the same sentence. I've been more worried about getting my name on a roster than I have been about winning the Vezina Trophy... Throughout my career, there were so many times when I got my hopes up and had them come crashing down behind me."