Milt Campbell

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This article is about the decathlete of the 1950s. For the blues vocalist, see Little Milton. For the 400 meter runner, see Milton Campbell.
Milt Campbell
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne Decathlon
Silver medal – second place 1952 Helsinki Decathlon
Milt Campbell
Position: Fullback
Personal information
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 223 lb (101 kg)
Career information
NFL draft: 1957 / Round: 5 / Pick: 
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 23
Stats at

Milton Gray Campbell (December 9, 1933 – November 2, 2012[1]) was an American decathlete of the 1950s. In 1956, he became the first African American to win the gold medal in the decathlon of the Summer Olympic Games.[citation needed]

Personal Life[edit]

Campbell was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. At Plainfield High School he competed in track, football and swimming.[2] He then enrolled at the Indiana University (Bloomington), where he played football and track.[3]

Track and Field[edit]

While a student at Plainfield High School, Campbell won a place on the 1952 Olympic team in the decathlon. Although just 18 years old, Campbell finished second to Bob Mathias in the decathlon.[citation needed] Campbell set New Jersey state records in the high and low hurdles and in the high jump, and scored 140 points as fullback in football. He was inducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1997.[3] In 1956 at Melbourne, Campbell won the gold medal. He narrowly missed a world record.


Campbell was also an excellent swimmer as a youth. An all around athlete, Campbell was drafted by the NFL Cleveland Browns in 1957 and played one season in the same backfield as Jim Brown.[4] Milt was released from the Cleveland Browns for marrying a white woman by owner Paul Brown.[5] He then played for several years in the Canadian Football League, ending his football career in 1964.[6]


As he finished with most sports, Milt sought to stay active. He started Judo and quickly progressed through the ranks under Yoshishada Yoneska. Yoshishada Yoneska stated that Milt had a strong chance to make the 1972 Olympic team. [7] An AAU Official took his card and stated he could not compete in the Olympics for Judo. [8] The reason was that Milt had competed as a professional football player. Milt was troubled as professional track runners were allowed to compete in the Olympics, but he could not because he played football. [9]

In 2008, a degree of Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa, was conferred upon him by Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.[citation needed]

In June 2012, Campbell was voted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.[4] He died, aged 78, in Gainesville, Georgia, after fighting prostate cancer for a decade. He is interred at Memorial Park Cemetery and Mausoleum - North in Gainesville.


Awards and achievements
Preceded by
United States Bob Mathias
World's Greatest Athlete
Succeeded by
United States Rafer Johnson

External links[edit]