IOC President Bach leads tributes to Muhammad Ali

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has led the tributes to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died at the age of 74 on Saturday.

The three-time world heavyweight champion, widely regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen of all-time, died late yesterday at a hospital in the American city of Phoenix after being admitted on Thursday (June 2).

He was suffering from respiratory issues with reports suggesting his breathing problems had been complicated by Parkinson’s disease, which he had suffered from since 1984 - three years after retiring from boxing.

Ali had a strong affinity with the Olympics, shooting to fame by winning the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome.

Ali continued to make public appearances, despite his illness, and lit the Olympic Cauldron at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

He also carried the Olympic flag at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

"The news about the death of Muhammad Ali has affected me and the Olympic Movement very much," said Bach.

"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.

"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."