Former Bruin and Sportsman of the Year, C.K. Yang, Passes Away

Jan. 28, 2007

Former Bruin and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, C.K. Yang (Yang Chuan-kwang), passed away in Los Angeles over the weekend after complications from a massive stroke. He was 74 years old.

Yang, born in 1933 to the indigenous Ami Tribe, showed an early proficiency in athletics. His coach discovered his talent and introduced him to the decathlon, and after two months of training in the event, Yang competed in the 1954 Asian Games in Manila. He scored 5,454 points and won a gold medal for Taiwan, earning the nickname 'Asian Iron Man.'

Four years later, Yang went to Japan for the 1958 Asian games, where he won not only another gold medal but also the ROC government's support for further studies at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In 1960, Yang took silver at the Rome Olympics after a duel with his UCLA schoolmate Rafer Johnson of the United States. It was the first Olympic medal Taiwan had ever won. Yang also competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, finishing fifth overall in the decathlon.

In 1963, Yang set a final world record of 9,121 points in California before the grading formula for the decathlon was changed.

His UCLA decathlon best of 8,089 points still ranks third all-time in Bruin history and his freshman record of 7,986 points has been in the books since 1960.

In 1963, Yang finished fifth in the high hurdles at the NCAA Championships and was a team captain that same year. Also in 1963, Yang ranked sixth in the world in the pole vault and No. 1 in the decathlon. He also held the No. 1 ranking in the multi-event competition in 1962, and was second in 1960 and third in 1959 and 1958.

'C.K. was obviously a great friend and I know UCLA has lost a great student-athlete,' said Rafer Johnson, former teammate of Yang. 'Taiwan has lost someone who may be the greatest athlete of all time, and the rest of us have lost a great friend.

'Personally I had a competitive career with C.K. that lasted over a number of years and he was always the most prepared, the most competitive and one of the smartest athletes on the field of competition. Because of all of those things, I personally was forced to be a better athlete then I might never have become had he not been there.

'Although our competitive days were fierce at times, we remained friends and I was always a little ambivalent in my feelings in terms of how bad I wanted to win when I competed against him because he was such a good friend of mine.

'The bottom line in all those years and what really cemented our friendship was the chance to work together. We trained together under the wings of Ducky Drake and Craig Dixon, and whatever our finishes, as we competed against each other, we knew that we both had done the best that we could do. And no one could ask for more then that.

'I will miss a friend and I will miss the good times that we had together. My love goes out to his family.'

For the majority of his life after his competition years ended, Yang served on Taiwan's Olympic Committee, and spent the better part of every year in Taiwan helping cultivate the development of their Olympic program. He was a national hero and a real inspiration to the youth of Taiwan.

Yang is survived by his wife, Daisy and their two sons, Cedric and C.K., Jr. Funeral arrangements are pending, but Yang's widow, Daisy, has said that he hoped to have his remains buried at the national track and field training center in Tsoying, Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. When memorial service and funeral arrangements have been determined, the UCLA website will post that information.

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