Watch Muhammad Ali Light The Olympic Torch At The 1996 Atlanta Games To Remember His Powerful Legacy
The 2016 Summer Olympics will formally kick off on Friday evening in Rio de Janeiro, and everyone wants to know: Who's going to light the Olympic Cauldron this year? More than 12,000 people helped transport the Olympic flame to its final destination, but the identity of the final torchbearer — the one who will actually light the Cauldron — will remain a secret until the very last moment. While we wait to find out who that might be, let's look back at an amazing moment in Olympics history: 20 years ago, when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron in Atlanta.
In July 1996, 36 years after Ali had won his own Olympic gold medal, he became the final torch bearer at that year's Summer Olympics. After his death earlier this year at the age of 74, the image of Ali lighting the cauldron, his hand shaking slightly as he did so, was a powerful one that reminded us of his legacy. When Ali received the Olympic flame, a giant screen lit up with his accomplishments as an athlete and humanitarian. He inspired many people throughout his life, as well as on that night during the Opening Ceremonies, and his fellow torchbearers were no exception.
It was swimmer Janet Evans who passed the torch to Ali all those years ago. Evans said last year that in that "defining moment," seeing Ali waiting to light the cauldron reminded her of her responsibility as an Olympic champion to "inspire and motivate others," according to NBC Sports:
As the opening ceremony rapidly approaches on Aug. 5, it's worth looking back throughout Olympic history and celebrating the impact that champions and activists like Ali had on the world.