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Rafer  Lewis Johnson, U.S.Decathlon champion,set a world record in the decathlon by scoring  8,302 points on this date in 1958 (July 28).


Rafer  Lewis Johnson was born Aug. 18, 1935, Hillsboro, Texas, U.S.) U.S. decathlete. While a student at UCLA, he won the decathlon gold medal at the 1955 Pan-American Games. At the 1960 Olympic Games he became the first African American athlete to carry the U.S. flag in the Olympic procession, and he captured the decathlon gold medal.

Rafer Johnson made his decathlon début in 1954 and the next year he won the Pan American Games title and set the first of his three world decathlon records. Johnson, who competed for UCLA and the Southern California Striders, won the AAU decathlon in 1956, 1958, and 1960 and after placing second to Milt Campbell at the 1956 Olympics, never lost another decathlon. He was injured at the 1956 Games, which forced him to withdraw from the Olympic long jump, for which he had also qualified. After his retirement in 1960 he acted in a few movies, and served for many years as a commercial spokesman for many products. The plaintiff cry moment’s after Robert Kennedy’s assassination was, “Get the gun, Rafer!”, and it was Rafer Johnson to whom the voice beckoned. Johnson and football star Rosey Grier were rabid Kennedy supporters and were standing next to him that fateful night. In 1984 Rafer Johnson was chosen to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympics.

His brother Jimmy played NFL football for 16 years with the San Francisco 49ers.

Personal Bests: 100 – 10.3 (1957); 220y – 21.0 (1956); 400 – 47.9 (1956); 110H – 13.8 (1956); HJ – 6-2½ (1.89) (1955); PV – 13-5¼ (4.09) (1960); LJ – 25-5½ (7.76) (1956); SP – 54-11½ (16.75) (1958); DT – 172-3 (52.50) (1960); JT – 251-9 (76.73) (1960); Dec – 7982 (1960).


Awards and Accomplishments

1955 Won gold medal in decathlon at the Pan American Games
1956 Won silver medal in decathlon at the Melbourne Summer Olympic Games
1956, 1958, 1960 Named U.S. national decathlon champion
1958 Set world record in the decathlon at United States-Soviet track meet in Moscow
1958 Named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated
1960 Won gold medal in decathlon at the Rome Summer Olympic Games; named Sportsman of the Year by Sport magazine
1960 Named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press
1960 Received James E. Sullivan Memorial Award from the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States
1974 Inducted into the National Track and Field

Hall of Fame, Athletics Congress of the United States of America

1983 Inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame

1990 Inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame