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Rafer Johnson

Inducted: 1974, athlete

Born: August 18, 1935 - Hillsboro, Texas

Decathlon - 7982 pts.

One of the greatest all-around track athletes in history, Rafer Johnson competed equally well in several events while a student at UCLA and quite naturally made his mark in the decathlon. In high school, Johnson excelled in football, baseball, basketball and track. An outstanding sprinter and long jumper, he gravitated to the decathlon after seeing Olympic champion Bob Mathias compete in the 10-event ordeal. Less than a month later, Johnson won the California state junior decathlon championship. By 1955, in his fourth attempt at the event, he scored 7,608 points, displacing Mathias as world record holder. That same year, he won the decathlon at the Pan-American Games. In 1956, he qualified for the Olympic team in both the long jump and decathlon, but because of a knee injury, he limited himself to the 10-event competition. At Melbourne, he finished second to fellow American and Hall of Famer Milt Campbell. Johnson never lost again. He won three National AAU titles from 1956 to 1960 and his duels with the USSR's Vasiliy Kuznetsov and Taiwan's C.K. Yang, also a UCLA teammate, were some of the greatest in track history. Johnson capped his career by winning the 1960 Olympic championship in a world record performance. Winner of the 1960 Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete, Johnson retired to begin to work for President John Kennedy's Peace Corps. Like many other decathlon stars, he later became a movie actor and a successful businessman.

1956 Olympics: Decathlon (2nd)
1960 Olympics: Decathlon (1st)
1955 Pan-Am Games: Decathlon (1st)

high school: Kingsburg (Kingsburg, California)
undergraduate: UCLA (Los Angeles, California), 1958


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