Olympian and American Hero Rafer Johnson Passes Away at 86

The Olympic decathlon champion, who subdued gunman Sirhan Sirhan after Robert Kennedy's assassination, has died at the age of 86 in Sherman Oaks, California.

AceShowbiz - Olympian Rafer Johnson has died, aged 86.

The athlete passed away on Wednesday morning (02Dec20) at his home in Sherman Oaks, California.

Johnson became an American hero when he tackled gunman Sirhan Sirhan after politician Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, and ripped the pistol from his hands.

As an athlete, he won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy, four years after winning silver at the 1956 Olympic Games.

He also enjoyed success as an actor, appearing in films like "Wild in the Country", opposite Elvis Presley, "Pirates of Tortuga", and the 1989 James Bond film "Licence to Kill".

Rafer also founded the California Special Olympics in 1969.

Fans could pay tribute to the late sportsman by making donation through The Special Olympics Southern California Rafer Johnson Tribute Fund.

The organization issued a statement, "We are saddened to announce the passing of Rafer Johnson, founder of SOSC, humanitarian, & Olympic Gold Medalist. The entire SOSC community mourns this loss. We extend our love & support to Rafer's wife, Elisabeth “Betsy” Thorsen; two children Jenny & Joshua; & family."

"With the ultimate goal of spreading acceptance and inclusion, Rafer Johnson propelled our community to new heights through the power of sports. Today, we lost one of our family members & one of the biggest champions for people with intellectual disabilities."

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