Prince in 1997
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Muhammad Ali, who died Friday, was one of the most inspirational figures in the world, both inside and out of the boxing ring. His words and deeds were a call to action for many, but it was the words he didn’t use that led Prince to stop cursing in his music.

The artist known for some of the most sexually suggestive songs in music history—including “Darling Nikki,” which led to the beginning of the Parental Advisory sticker—told Essence magazine in a 2014 interview that he was inspired by the legendary boxer to stop swearing in his songs.


“Marsha Ambrosius, Lianne La Havas and Janelle Monáe are all my sisters. We shouldn’t curse at them,” he said, referring to some of his collaborators. “We need to treat them, and all people, like royalty. Did you ever hear Muhammad Ali curse? Would you curse in front of your kids or to your mother?”

When you consider how much Prince revered Ali, it’s no surprise that the boxer had such a strong influence. The two legends first met in June 1997 at a press conference announcing a benefit concert to promote international harmony and tolerance. Even the normally super-cool Prince seemed a little starstruck to be in the presence of Ali, calling the boxer his “hero.”

“He could have said, ‘Mow the lawn,’ and I would have been down with it,” said His Royal Badness.

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