The difference between Confidence and Arrogance – Muhammad Ali

February 22, 2012


What is it?

Character: Muhammad Ali
From: Boxing
Type: Sport Stars
What is this clip about: Michael Parkinson is retiring and is showing clips of his favourite guests he has interviewed, Ali being one. In this video, there are different clips of their interviews and how Ali treads the line majestically between confidence and arrogance. Ali is perhaps the greatest boxer of all time yet, he never comes across as arrogant.

Why should I watch it?

  • Ali is considered the greatest boxer of all time. He made mountains of money and had every person around him telling him he was the greatest, yet Ali is self-aware throughout the interview, uses wit and irony and humour to just be himself. If he had been arrogant, he would have been more stand offish, he wouldn’t have been as open towards the ‘deeper’ questions (e.g. about getting hurt).
  • Ali had a big goal in his life and he worked hard towards achieving it. As he did so, Ali accumulated reference points from others, of how good he was (the numerous knockouts etc). Yet, he never becomes arrogant. He enjoys making others laugh, bringing the crowd into the fun and making the experience unforgettable for all. He appreciates his fans and loves to interact with them.
  • Watch Ali’s body language, it is a supreme display of self-confidence. He leans back and has open and inviting body language. When he talks, he locks on eye contact and talks slowly, clearly and in a deep masculine voice. Parkinson can’t help but be drawn into him, notice how Parkinson leans forward, like he is being sucked into the experience Ali is creating.
  • Ali dresses to impress. Ali took pride in his appearance and it gave him confidence to know he looked good. If he were arrogant, I would have expected him to bring a Championship belt to the interview.
  • Ali was aware that he has his faults. He knew that to be the best, he had to learn new skills and become the best at them. He analysed his opponents and got in their heads. He was humble enough to know they had weaknesses and he sought them out. Ali wasn’t stupid enough to assume he would always win regardless.
  • You won’t find anyone to say Ali is arrogant. Yet, everyone (of a certain age-range anyway) typically uses him when asked for a confident male.


How can I do that?

  • Like Ali, you need to get a goal in your life. Pick something that is far away from your current reality, and something that you will need to work hard to achieve it. You can’t get arrogant if you know you always need to improve. Life should always be about improvement and bettering yourself.
  • Be self-aware, you will know inside if you have become the sort of person that people will avoid. Watch other people’s reactions. Ask for feedback from them. It becomes apparent quickly when people are not impressed with how you are behaving (and most will tell you soon enough if you are being a arrogant dick!).
  • It is OK to be great at something but always remember that you can always learn something about it, you are never perfect. Be proud of your achievements but it should never be all there is about you.
  • Spend time with others, look to help them if possible. Ali is aware that others aren’t him, that others aren’t as good as him. He brings others into his experience, to make them have a great time. Do the same.
  • Become confident by working towards your goals. Use the successes as reference points to build your confidence. Use the failures as learning experiences. Always consider yourself a pupil learning and never the teacher and you should stay on the right side of confidence and never become arrogant.


How was it? Did it blow your mind or suck ass? Let me know in the comments below and then watch another!

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2 comments on “The difference between Confidence and Arrogance – Muhammad Ali

  1. Brand new post on Confidence vs Arrogance I look at how Muhammed Ali rocks confidence but avoids arrogance, comment!

  2. Fuck Clay Jun 4, 2016

    Clay (“Ali”) was an arrogant ass.

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