Birthday Vocabulary: Many Happy Returns, Muhammed Ali

Words to do with birthdays are highlighted in bold and then explained below in the glossary.

If you had to name one of the greatest ever sportsperson in the world, who would it be? Most people would say, including myself, Muhammad Ali. I would also like to say happy belated birthday to him as he celebrated his 70th birthday on Tuesday.

To mark this special occasion, he spent the day in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in the US. He spent several minutes meeting well-wishers with his wife and sister-in-law, while other partygoers were cheering and chanting his name. He also had a special birthday bash where celebrities and former boxers paid tribute to him – 350 people in total at a cost of $1000 per seat went to his charity.

The self-proclaimed ‘Greatest of All Time’ is still one of the most recognisable people in the world, and the praise he got from his landmark birthday just shows the impact he has had. Britain’s very own former World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis wished him a happy birthday, adding how much he was inspired to box because of him. Former US president Bill Clinton wished him many happy returns, saying how he has helped lead the way for black people such as Barack Obama. Even his legendary rival George Foreman hoped he had a special day, as well as saying how he loved him!

This milestone is just one of a number of remarkable things in Ali’s life. He was born Cassius Clay in 1942 and won an Olympic gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He converted to Islam in 1964 and went on to become the youngest boxing world champion at that time. He was also put into prison and had his world boxing title taken away from him for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He has also had to battle Parkinson’s disease for a number of years, so reaching 70 years old is certainly a big achievement.

As a small birthday treat, many articles and websites are highlighting his quotes. So, by wishing him a special day to remember, here are some of his best and most famous ones:

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and got into bed before the room was dark.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee — his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see”

“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life”

“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up”


Birthday vocabulary and expressions:

To celebrate
to observe / enjoy a day or event, usually with people
To mark a special occasion
to identify a special moment/ event
people who wishes well to someone or a cause
people who goes to or attends parties
A birthday bash
a birthday celebration party
To pay tribute to sb
to give respect to sb or something by words or actions
A landmark birthday
an important birthday, more than the other ones
To wish sb a Happy Birthday
to say Happy Birthday to sb
A milestone
an important event
A birthday treat
a pleasant (often surprising) gift or act

Birthday Sayings:

Happy Belated Birthday (for late birthdays)

Many Happy Returns

Hope you have a special day

Wishing you a special day to remember

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