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Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic decathlon champion, dies at 86

Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic decathlon champion, dies at 86
Posted at 11:16 AM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 15:13:00-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy's assassin in 1968, has died.

He was 86.

Family friend Michael Roth says Johnson died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles.

No cause was announced.

Johnson was among the world's greatest athletes from 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960.

The Associated Press reported Johnson won a national decathlon championship in 1956 and a silver medal at the Melbourne Olympics that same year.

He lit the torch at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

In June 1968, Johnson was with Kennedy at a hotel in Los Angeles when the senator was shot by Sirhan Sirhan.

Johnson, along with former NFL star Rosey Grier and journalist George Plimpton, helped in subduing the shooter.

Kennedy died the next day.

According to the Associated Press, Johnson called the assassination “one of the most devastating moments in my life.”