BREAKING NEWS: Legendary 1960 Olympic Decathlon Champion Rafer Johnson has Died Aged 86

Legendary 1960 Olympic Decathlon Champion Rafer Johnson has Died Aged 86.

Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic decathlon champion who helped subdue RFK’s assassin in 1968, has died at the age of 86. Johnson died at his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, according to family friend Michael Roth – no cause of death was announced.

Rafer Johnson was among the world´s greatest athletes from 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960, winning a national decathlon championship in 1956 and a silver medal at the Melbourne Olympics that same year.

His Olympic career included carrying the U.S. flag at the 1960 Games and lighting the torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to open the 1984 Games. Johnson set world records in the decathlon three different times amid a fierce rivalry with his UCLA teammate C.K. Yang of Taiwan and Vasily Kuznetsov of the former Soviet Union.

On June 5, 1968, Johnson was working on Kennedy’s presidential campaign when the Democratic candidate was shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Johnson joined former NFL star Rosey Grier and journalist George Plimpton in apprehending Sirhan Sirhan moments after he shot Kennedy, who died the next day.

Johnson later called the assassination “one of the most devastating moments in my life.”


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Tony Winterburn

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