Milt Campbell

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Milt Campbell
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne Decathlon
Silver medal – second place 1952 Helsinki Decathlon
Milt Campbell
No. 48
Personal information
Born:(1933-12-09)December 9, 1933
Plainfield, New Jersey
Died:November 2, 2012(2012-11-02) (aged 78)
Gainesville, Georgia
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Plainfield (NJ)
NFL Draft:1957 / Round: 5 / Pick: 53
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:23
Rush attempts:7
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

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.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Campbell was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. At Plainfield High School he competed in track, football and swimming.[3] He then enrolled at the Indiana University (Bloomington), where he played football and ran track.[4]

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.[5] 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.[4] He was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1952.[6]

In 1956 at Melbourne, Campbell won the gold medal. He narrowly missed a world record. He did however set the Olympic record of 7937 at the Melbourne Olympics.


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.[7] Milt was released from the Cleveland Browns by owner Paul Brown for marrying a white woman.[8] He then played for several years in the Canadian Football League, ending his football career in 1964.[8]


As he finished with most sports, Milt sought to stay active. He started Judo and quickly progressed through the ranks under Yoshishada Yoneska. Yoshishada stated that Milt had a strong chance to make the 1972 Olympic team.[9] An AAU Official took his card and stated he could not compete in the Olympics for Judo.[9] 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.[7] 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.


  1. ^ Milt Campbell, the greatest athlete in New Jersey history, dies at 78
  2. ^ "Olympian Milt Campbell dies",, November 4, 2012. Accessed July 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "CAMPBELL CAPTURES TWO NEWARK EVENTS", The New York Times, February 28, 1953. Accessed November 6, 2007. "Milt Campbell, Plainfield High School star, won the first two events in the twenty-ninth Newark Athletic Club track and field championships today."
  4. ^ a b Hall of Fame / Class of 1997 Archived 2007-05-21 at the Wayback Machine., New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 26, 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  7. ^ a b "First black Olympic decathlon winner, Milt Campbell, dies at 78". November 4, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b c

External links[edit]