Rafer Johnson, Olympic gold medalist, lifeless at 86
Rafer Johnson, a vaunted decathlete who gained Olympic gold for the US on the 1960 video games and later tackled the murderer of Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, died Wednesday.
He was 86.
Johnson died at his Los Angeles residence, in accordance with household good friend Michael Roth, who didn’t disclose the reason for demise.
The Texas-born, California-raised Johnson was seemingly destined for athletic greatness, taking part in soccer, basketball, baseball and monitor and area in highschool.
From the mid-Nineteen Fifties by means of the early-Nineteen Sixties, Johnson established himself as among the many world’s finest all-around athletes — a run that began whereas he was nonetheless a teen.
As a freshman at UCLA, Johnson dominated the 1955 Pan American Video games, profitable gold whereas setting data within the worldwide gauntlet.
In 1956, Johnson gained the nationwide decathlon championship and a spot on America’s squad for the Olympic video games in Melbourne, Australia.
He gained silver, ending behind fellow American Milt Campbell — whereas hampered by a pulled abdomen muscle and a strained knee.
On the 1960 video games in Rome, Johnson clinched gold within the decathlon, going out on prime as he retired from aggressive athletics.
“He stood for what he believed in and he did it in a really elegant manner with grace and dignity,” stated fellow US Olympic champion Janet Evans, a swimmer. “He didn’t need credit score.”
Off the sphere, Johnson gravitated to appearing, sportscasting and humanitarian work.
Within the turbulent summer time of 1968, he discovered himself engaged on the White Home marketing campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Kennedy.
Throughout a June 5 marketing campaign occasion at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Lodge, Kennedy was shot 3 times by Palestinian militant Sirhan Sirhan, wounds that may show deadly the subsequent day.
Johnson was amongst a bunch who disarmed and subdued the murderer, holding him till the authorities may take over.
“I knew he did the whole lot he may to care for Uncle Bobby at his most susceptible second,” Kennedy’s niece, Maria Shriver, stated Wednesday. “His devotion to Uncle Bobby was pure and actual. He had protected his good friend. Even after Uncle Bobby’s demise he stayed shut.”
Johnson later known as the homicide “some of the devastating moments in my life.”
Johnson is survived by his spouse of 49 years, Elizabeth, their daughter, Jenny, son, Josh, and 4 grandchildren.
With Publish Wires
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