What Investors Can Learn From Muhammad Ali for a Knockout Real Estate Career

by | BiggerPockets.com

There is no question that the legendary boxer was one of the greatest athletes of all time. But he was much more than that, too. He was an important figure that people looked up to, aspired to be like, and loved. He also owned a property or two in his time. So how would he recommend taking on real estate investing in the ring?

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Take Action with Confidence

Professional boxers don’t lack a sense of reality or fear when they step into the ring. If they weren’t alert to the damage potential, they wouldn’t last very long at all. But they train, they learn, they figure out how to minimize risk, and they optimize tactics — and then they step in with confidence.

Take the Punches, Choose Your Moment

If you step into a boxing ring with a pro, you are going to get hit. Period.

Like Ali, hopefully you quickly learn how to avoid most of those blows, to minimize their damage, and how to hit back harder. But it never stopped Ali from getting back in the ring, and he used both precise and unorthodox strikes to bring down opponents others thought he had no chance against.


Stay Agile

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” — Muhammad Ali

We all know this quote, and it definitely applies to real estate. Some wish they had billions to outbid the rest of the world and buy large swathes of expensive cities. In reality, that may not prove very profitable at all. Stay agile, alert to opportunities; pinpoint the great moves; and strike instantly with precision. In real estate, that means recognizing great deals and acting quickly to secure them.

Related: 3 Lessons Real Estate Investors Can Learn About Overcoming Fear From Rock Climber Alex Honnold

Be Kind

You don’t have to be a Gordon Gecko character to win in business nor a violent animal to win in boxing. Ali proved that. He was against violence. He was even banned from the sport for refusing to fight in the war, and he spoke out against discrimination.

He was a philanthropist and actively seized on opportunities to help and inspire others. At least later in his life, Ali would be seen taking time to mingle with fans, pick up and hug kids, and pass out positive quotes during flights. He is remembered, respected, and considered a success for this part of his life just as much as his minutes in the ring.

Jab, Jab, Hook

As a boxer, you don’t rush into the ring just wildly throwing a right hook. You’d probably just miss or be knocked out. The jab tests the other competitor and sets up the finishing shot.

Related: 3 Lessons Real Estate Investors Can Take From Legendary NBA Star Kobe Bryant

If you are looking to acquire private money for real estate, you have to offer a lot of value, and then you’ll earn that closing shot. That may be posting in the Forums, answering questions, or simply offering your real estate knowledge for free. Or as a new investor, this can translate to testing new strategies and partners with smaller amounts of capital before going in big.


Use the Power of Words

Ali appeared to speak things into existence. He said he was “the greatest ever” before he was the greatest. If you absolutely believe you can do something with your mind, use the power of words and apply persistence and hard work to achieve anything.

[Image Credit: By Polish Press Agency (PAP) – [1], #5/28, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40461551]

Who inspires you to be a better investor? What lessons do you take from Muhammad Ali’s amazing career?

Let’s talk in the comments section!

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. Kim Martin

    Thanks for the great article, Sterling. You are spot on. We can take great inspiration from those we admire and turn that into positive action. In turn, we will earn the fruits of our hard labor. Thanks so much for all that you do for our Bigger Pockets Community! I always enjoy your posts!

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