According to nytimes.com, American athlete Rafer Johnson, who carried the United States flag into Rome’s Olympic Stadium in August 1960 as the first Black captain of a U.S. Olympic team and went on to win gold in the decathlon bringing him acclaim as the world’s greatest all-around athlete, died today at his home in Los Angeles, CA. He was 86.
To quote from The New York Times:
Johnson never competed after that decathlon triumph. He became a good-will ambassador for the United States and a close associate of the Kennedy family, taking a leadership role in the Special Olympics, which were championed by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and joining Robert F. Kennedy’s entourage during Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968. He was remembered especially for helping to wrestle the senator’s assassin to the ground in Los Angeles in 1968.
Johnson’s national profile was largely molded at the 1960 Olympics, one of the most celebrated in the history of the Games, a moment when a host of African-American athletes burst triumphantly onto the world stage.
Muhammad Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, captured boxing gold in the light-heavyweight division. Wilma Rudolph swept to victory in the women’s 100- and 200-meter dashes and combined with her Tennessee State teammates for gold in the 4 x 100 relay. Oscar Robertson helped take the United States basketball team to a gold medal.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Thorsen, brother Jimmy Johnson, a former San Francisco 49er and Pro Football Hall of Famer; two children, Jennifer Johnson Jordan, who was a member of the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and is now a volleyball coach at U.C.L.A., and Josh Johnson; and four grandchildren.
To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/sports/olympics/rafer-johnson-dead.html
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