Ollie Matson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameOliver Genoa "Ollie"•Matson
Used nameOllie•Matson
Born1 May 1930 in Trinity, Texas (USA)
Died19 February 2011 in Los Angeles, California (USA)
Measurements188 cm / 89 kg
AffiliationsSan Francisco Dons, San Francisco (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 2


In 1948, as an 18-year-old schoolboy, Ollie Matson competed in the 400 m at the Final Trials, but failed to make the Olympic team. Four years later he won two medals at the Helsinki Olympics and signed a pro football contract immediately after the Olympics. While at the University of San Francisco, Matson was the top college runner in his senior year, carrying for 1,566 yards, at the time the second best season total ever in college football. He led the NCAA in scoring and rushing and was a first-team All-America selection. He led the Dons to an undefeated 9-0 record but they were denied a chance to play in a Bowl Game as the major bowls refused to invite them, because Matson and his teammate Burl Toler were black.

Matson became one the best running backs in the NFL, playing for the Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, and Philadelphia Eagles. He was an all-league selection in 1954-57 and was voted MVP of the 1955 Pro Bowl Game. When he retired in 1966, after 14 years in the NFL, he was second only to the legendary Jimmy Brown in combined rushing yardage. His heroics earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. After his pro career ended, he became a football coach, teacher, scout, and official.

Personal Best: 400 – 46.6 (1952).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Ollie Matson
400 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) United States 2 Silver

Special Notes


Some sources gives him full name as Oliver Adrian Matson but this does not appear to be correct.