At its core, rap music and hip-hop as a culture is rough, rugged and raw, and this is mainly due to it being born in hardscrabble conditions, where fighting to survive is a way of life. When impoverished conditions and a scarcity of basic necessities leave you with a lack of material wealth, holding your own and protecting your dignity are among the highest priorities, which is one of the many reasons that boxing is so beloved by those at the bottom of society.

The art of the fight, which has principals aplenty embedded within it, is representative of those who scrap to survive everyday. And as an extension, admiration for the pugilist has always been a trademark of rap artists dating back to the genesis of hip-hop. The will that it takes to step in the ring and go toe-to-toe with an opponent is vastly similar to how a rapper approaches stepping into the booth: focused, fearless and ready to attack with a fervor that will guarantee victory.

Champions like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Joe Frazier all rank among the more popular boxing figures to have their name end up in a rhyme from a rap superstar, with some going as far as referencing classic bouts like the Thriller in Manilla. And when you add in the likes of Marvin Hagler, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather and others being name-dropped on numerous occasions, it's clear that boxing has had a large influence on a majority of the greatest rappers of all-time. From Jay Z to Canibus and more, are 20 unforgettable rap lyrics that celebrate the boxing's biggest icons and the sport as a whole.

  • 1

    "Many Men (Wish Death)"

    50 Cent

    "When I rhyme somethin' special happen every time/I'm the greatest, somethin' like Ali in his prime/I walk the block with the bundles, I've been knocked on the humble/Swing the ox when I rumble, show your ass what my gun do"

  • 2

    "Some People Hate"

    Jay Z

    "Think they Ali and shit/I roll with the punches so I survive/I bob and weave, move my feet from side to side/I'm back, stronger than ever surprise surprise/They try to take me out the game but I's alive"

  • 3

    "Protect Ya Neck"

    Wu-Tang Clan

    "I smoke on the mic like Smokin' Joe Frazier/The hellraiser, raising hell with the flavor/Terrorize the jam like troops in Pakistan/Swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spider-Man" - Inspectah Deck

  • 4

    "The ROC (Just Fire)"


    "It's the top don, Glock palm, dot com/Get your shit rocked ma like Hasim Rahman/And I'm extra scary/CEOs all the frontin' ain't necessary, I fuck wit' secretaries"

  • 5

    "Dumb It Down"

    Lupe Fiasco

    "Pimps see the wings on the Underground King/Who's also Klingon, to infinity and beyond/Something really stinks, but I Sphinx like Leon/Or lying/lion in the desert/I'm flying on Pegasus, you're flying on the pheasant"

  • 6


    Puff Daddy Featuring The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes

    "Excellence is my presence, never tense/Never hesitant, leave a nigga bent real quick/Real sick, raw nights, I perform like Mike/Anyone -- Tyson, Jordan, Jackson/Action, pack guns, ridiculous/And I'm, quick to bust, if my ends you touch" - The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 7

    "I Can Tell"

    504 Boyz

    "Now you ain't gotta say much 'cause I was peepin you/Lookin at yo' hips got me thinkin bout how deep in you I'm tryin' to go/You heard about No Limit Soldiers?/We get up in it and hit it harder then De La Hoya"

  • 8

    "Y'all Must've Forgot"

    Roy Jones Jr.

    "When I beat Bernard Hopkins, and won the IBF/The right was hurt, beat him with the left/Y'all musta forgot!/You remember the left hook that James Toney got/Sucka move that I stole from a gamecock/Y'all musta forgot"

  • 9

    "Knock Yourself Out"


    "I don't care if they model, bet they all gon' chill/First nigga to cook base on a Foreman grill/And you might win some, but you just lost one/Kiss miseducates 'em like Lauryn Hill"

  • 10

    "The Essence"

    AZ Featuring Nas

    "Yo we hard hit, just like Camacho and Vargas/Who's the target, now watch how we close the market/We both hard hit, just like Hagler and Hearns/Add the math, be concerned, if it's beef you burn" - Nas

  • 11

    "Put Your Hands Up"

    LL Cool J

    "Since I dropped 'I'm Bad' I've been in Jags with nicke' bags/Hoes I had give better blows than Felix Trinidad/One I had flew her Benz in from Baghdad/With personalized tags, chrome mags and Prada bags"

  • 12

    "Uzi (Pinky Ring)"

    Wu-Tang Clan

    "I smash set it and wreck for cash credit or check/You crash-tests can't measure the threat/I dance on a nigga like my name's Zab Judah/Rap barracuda, three XL kahuna" - Inspectah Deck

  • 13

    "What's the Difference"

    Dr. Dre featuring Eminem and Xzibit

    "Yo I stay with it, while you try to perpetrate and play with it/Never knew about the next level until Dre did it/I stay committed while you motherfuckers babysitted/I smash you critics like a overhand right from Riddick" - Xzibit

  • 14

    "Dead Wrong"

    The Notorious B.I.G. Featuring Eminem

    "Who's the one you call Mr. Macho?/The head honcho, swift fist, like Camacho/I got so much style I should be down with the Stylistics/Make up to break up/Niggas need to wake up/Smell the Indonesia, beat you to a seizure/Then fuck your moms, hit the skins to amnesia" - The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 15

    "You Won't See Me Tonight"

    Nas Featuring Aaliyah

    "Can't forget how I met you;/You thought I was a boxer Prince Naseem/But I'm the mobster, Nas from Queens/And when I gotcha, you ridin with me/You keep askin', 'When do you have time for me?'" - Nas

  • 16

    "Against All Odds"


    "All you old rappers tryin' to advance/It's all over now, take it like a man/Niggas lookin' like Larry Holmes, flabby and sick/Tryin' to player hate on my shit, you eat a fat dick"

  • 17

    "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang"

    Dr. Dre Featuring Snoop Dogg

    "And that's realer than Real Deal Holyfield/And now you hookers and hoes know how I feel/Well, if it's good enough to get broke off a proper chunk/I'll take a small piece of some of that funky stuff" - Snoop Dogg

  • 18

    "Boxing Freestyle"

    R.A. The Rugged Man

    "Golota punched Riddick Bowe repeatedly in the dick/Then when he fought Mike Tyson, he bitched out and quit/James Toney was a skilled technician/Jack Johnson beat white boys and fucked their women"

  • 19

    "The Game"


    "They try to box me in like Cassius Clay/Hey I'm like Muhammad when he fasted/Opposing the fascist, make cuts and got gashes/Scratches over third eyelashes/Punchlines are like jab hits to rappers/Whose careers now ashes it's too many slashes"

  • 20

    "Greatest Freestyle"


    "Never, I'm way too clever the way I maneuver/Beat your ass, like Lennox Lewis did to David Tua/In front of a hundred-million pay-per-viewers/Your career is ruined/Your face will be swollen, like the Benihana Buddha/Bring it to ya, prove you're a loser"