If "great moments are born from great opportunity," then these famous sports speeches helped those opportunities become great moments by providing the motivation to achieve the impossible. What are the most famous sports speeches? From the pre-game pump-up speeches by coaches before championship games to the reflection speeches given after great careers, these famous sports speeches are some of the best ever.
What are the greatest speeches in sports? While sports movies like Any Given Sunday and Hoosiers give plenty of fictional inspiring speeches, these speeches took place in real life and inspired generations to come.
The next time you need that extra push to accomplish something great, look to these wise speakers for that motivation. Have a favorite sports speech that we didn't list? Add it below and tell us why you're inspired!
Prior 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."
#55 on The Most Obnoxious Athletes
#304 on People We Wish Were Still Alivesee more on Muhammad Ali
Speaking 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!"
Also Rankedsee more on Herb Brooks
Appearing 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."
Showing 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."
#366 on People We Wish Were Still Alive
#165 on The Best Athletes of All Timesee more on Lou Gehrig
Frail 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.
#122 on People We Wish Were Still Alive
#197 on The Best Athletes of All Timesee more on Babe Ruth
On 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."
#71 on Famous People Named Jacksee more on Jack Buck
Following 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."
#47 on The Most Obnoxious Athletessee more on Michael Irvin
Two 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."
#277 on The Best NHL Players of All Timesee more on Tim Thomas