Join/Renew Now

Cornelius Johnson

Photo of Cornelius Johnson

Inducted: 1994, athlete

Born: August 28, 1913 - Los Angeles, California
Deceased: February 15, 1946

High Jump - 2.08 m

Cornelius Johnson was an 18-year-old high school student when he placed fourth in the high jump at the 1932 Olympics, even though he cleared the same height as the three medalists. The rule under which he was placed fourth later changed. Under the modern tie-breaking procedure, he would have won the silver medal. The 6' 5" Johnson built on his first Olympic experience, winning the AAU outdoor championship in 1933 and 1935 and tying for the title in 1932, 1934 and 1936. He also won or tied for the indoor championship three times. In 1936, he became the world indoor record holder at 6' 8 15/16" and co-holder of the outdoor world record of 6' 9 3/4", which he and fellow American Dave Albritton both cleared at the Olympic Trials. At the Berlin Olympics, Johnson brimmed with confidence, jumping in his sweats until the bar reached 6' 6 3/4" and winning the event with an Olympic record leap of 6' 8". Ironically, it was Johnson -- and not Jesse Owens, as widely believed -- who was snubbed by Adolf Hitler at the Berlin Games. On the day of Johnson's triumph, Hitler had congratulated the winners of the day's first two events, a German and a Finn. But before Johnson and silver medalist Albritton, both African Americans, went to the awards platform, Hitler left the stadium. In early 1946, while working as a ship's baker on board the Grace Line's "Santa Cruz," Johnson was stricken with a sudden illness. En route from the ship to a California hospital, Corny Johnson died at the age of 32.

Records Held
World Record: High Jump - 2.08 m (July 12, 1936 - )

1932 Olympics: High Jump (4th)
1936 Olympics: High Jump - 2.03 m (1st)
1932 AAU: High Jump (1st)
1933 AAU: High Jump (1st)
1934 AAU: High Jump (1st)
1935 AAU: High Jump (1st)
1936 AAU: High Jump (1st)

junior college: Compton College (Compton, California)


Nike Toyota Hershey Garden of Life NCSA Gatorade KT Nationwide Normatec St. Vincent UCS