President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach is one of the millions who have been moved by the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
"The news about the death of Muhammad Ali has affected me and the Olympic Movement very much. Our thoughts are with his family. He was an athlete who touched the hearts of people across the globe, an athlete who was engaged beyond sport, an athlete who had the courage to give hope to so many suffering illness by lighting the Olympic cauldron and not hiding his own affliction. He was an athlete who fought for peace and tolerance - he was a true Olympian," said Bach.
The first boxer to win the World Heavyweight Championship three times also happens to be an Olympic gold medalist. Cassius Clay (Ali's name at the time) participated in the light- heavyweight division at Rome’s 1960 Olympic Games when he was 18-years-old. He easily won all of his four fights and brought home the Olympic title after defeating three-time European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski.
According to Empire News , Ali valued his Olympic medal to the extent that he even wore it while sleeping. However, he lost it shortly after earning it and received a replacement medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.
In his autobiography , Ali mentions throwing his medal in the Ohio River after being refused service by a "whites-only" restaurant an d fighting with a white gang. But that story has been disputed and called an apocryphal tale .
Ali also made a special appearance at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, where he was honored as a representative of the virtues of any great athlete: respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, generosity and spiritual strength.
Bach added, "Meeting him in person was an inspiration. He was a man who at the same time was so proud and yet so humble. As such we will always remember him."