The late Muhammad Ali has been described as a "true Olympian" by Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Former heavyweight world champion Ali, who died on Friday at the age of 74, claimed gold at the Rome Games as a teenager in 1960, winning the men's light heavyweight title.

He also famously lit the Olympic cauldron in Atlanta 20 years ago, an iconic moment that laid bare the debilitating effects of the then 54-year-old's battle with Parkinson's disease.

Bach issued a moving statement via the IOC's official website on Saturday, which read: "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.

"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."