Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 4


Well groomed gentlemen:

With a side of underwear:

Vintage Olympic Heroes

Milt Campbell

At the Melboune, Australia, Olympic games in 1956, Milt Campbell (1933-2012) became the first African-American to win the decathlon. Four years earlier, as a rising high school senior, 
he had won the decathlon silver medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, 
placing second to fellow American Bob Mathias (see post on August 2).

Campbell was an astonishingly versatile athlete. He was also an All-American swimmer 
and an All-American football running back at Plainfield, NJ, where he earned 
a selection to The Star-Ledger Football Team of the Decade for the 1950s.

He is the only athlete enshrined in both the National Track and Field 
and National Swimming Hall of Fames. Campbell also excelled in wrestling, 
bowling, tennis, judo and karate. 
His student years as a participant in football and track at Indiana University 
were interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy.

The 1956 Olympics were the first held in the Southern Hemisphere.

After the Olympics, Campbell returned to football. 
Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957, he was released by the team 
after just one season because he had just married a white woman.* 
No other U.S. team would pick him up, so he played professionally 
for seven years in the Canadian Football League in a less racist environment. 
After his professional athletic career ended, he became a popular motivational speaker, 
and he was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992. 
Campbell kept active in later years playing tennis, riding bikes and motorcycles – 
and riding horses. He died at age 78 after a ten-year struggle with cancer and diabetes.

*By the late 1950s 24 states still had miscegenation laws on the books. 
The Supreme Court did not rule miscegenation laws unconstitutional until 1967. 
Interestingly, the state of Ohio, where Campbell was playing with the Cleveland Browns, 
had repealed its law banning interracial marriage way back in 1887, seventy years 
before Campbell was fired for marrying a white woman.

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