Milt Campbell : Olympic decathlon champion “famous for not being famous” / David K. Wiggins

Wiggins, David Kenneth

Milt Campbell, an outstanding African American athlete from Plainfield, New Jersey, captured the silver medal in the decathlon in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki and garnered the gold medal in the same event in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. Despite these great performances, Campbell is arguably the least known of all the decathlon gold medalists from the United States and was very slow to receive the honors and awards he deserved relative to his Olympic triumphs in track and field's most grueling event. This essay assesses the possible reasons why Campbell received belated honors and has been lost from historical memory, ultimately contending that it resulted from the years he spent living in Canada in relative obscurity, his outspoken position on racial issues, his tendency to shun the spotlight, and a combination of other factors.

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