A Chance to Dare: The Don Bragg Story
It all started with Johnnie Weismuller swinging through the jungle with his trademark Tarzan yodel -- and right into the heart of a scrawny, butt-end-of-everything kid from the Jersey swamplands. Swinging on makeshift ropes, Don Bragg emulated his hero, amassing the upper body strength that transformed him into an unlikely natural for pole vaulting. His confidence developed more slowly. In fact, it took a herd of spiteful pigs to catapult Don into Villanova and collegiate sports. Though a quirk of fate kept him off the 1956 Olympic team and out of the movie role of Tarzan, Don kept chasing his gold medal. In 1960, despite a nude canoe trip and a near miss with a meat grinder, he finally won Olympic gold in Rome. Next, Don gave Hollywood a try, but after facing down a loaded gun, he high-tailed it back to the normalcy of New Jersey. Despite injuries, business disappointments, and a close call with terrorists, Don opened a camp for disadvantaged kids with an assist from Muhammad Ali, who delighted in beating up Tarzan. Though his dreams of a blissful retirement foundered on misplaced trust, Don rediscovered his center within his family and in the enthusiastic promotion of his sport.
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