This Day in Black History: Sept. 6, 1960

Rafer Johnson

This Day in Black History: Sept. 6, 1960

Rafer Johnson becomes the first African-American to become an Olympic Decathlon winner.

Published September 6, 2014

World record holder, three-time Amateur Athletic Union national champion and Olympic silver medalist Rafer Johnson made history yet again by becoming the first African-American winner of an Olympic decathlon on Sept. 6, 1960.

Before capturing the gold, Johnson had completed all but one event in the decathlon: the 1,500 meters, and he knew this would not be easy.

"The whole decathlon is ridiculous," Johnson said, "But the 1,500 meters is insanity."

Johnson only had to come within 10 seconds of Taiwan’s C.K. Yang's time in order to win. And he did it.

At the age of 25, Johnson took home the gold medal and made history with a time of 4:49.7.

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(Photo: Allsport Hulton/Archive via Getty Images)

Written by Nicole Phillip


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