Rafer Johnson, First Black Captain of US Olympic Team, dies at 86

Rafer Johnson Source: cnn.com

Decathlete and Actor, Johnson embodied Olympic Movement

Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic decathlon champion, passed away at the age of 86, on Wednesday. He was termed as world’s greatest athlete after winning the decathlon gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.

“Our sense of loss is only eclipsed by the gratitude we will always feel for the opportunity to work so closely with Rafer. He embodied the Olympic Movement,” said Peter Ueberroth, CEO of the 1984 Summer Olympics who chose Johnson to light the torch for those Games.

“There are so many lives he touched and improved as a true hero who cared deeply for others. Each day we are focused on honoring his legacy.”

Johnson, after winning silver at the 1956 Melbourne Games, claimed the top step four years later on the Olympic podium four years in Rome, clinching the gold with an Olympic record score. This achievement earned him the AAU James E. Sullivan Award for the Most Outstanding Amateur Athlete in the United States.

Johnson was an all-round sportsman who was drafted by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams as a running back in 1959 and played basketball at UCLA under legendary coach John Wooden.

Johnson, in 1968, helped tackle Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin. While working on Kennedy’s presidential campaign, Johnson helped to subdue Sirhan Bishara Sirhan after he shot Kennedy, the U.S. presidential candidate.

After a career in athletics, Johnson turned to acting. Among his credits are parts in the Elvis Presley film Wild in the Country and the James Bond movie License to Kill.


Edited by – Rimjhim Singh

Source – Reuters