Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame

Joshua Culbreath
Joshua Culbreath
Class of 2008
Track and Field

U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Olympic Team
Joshua Culbreath.. . .1956 Olympic Hurdles Bronze Medalist.. . .World Record Holder (440-meters) . . . Six-time Collegiate Track and Field Coach of Year. . .September 14, 1932 , in Norristown, Pennsylvania. . .


Joshua Culbreath was born in Norristown, PA on September 14, 1932. As a student of Norristown High School, Culbreath won the Pennsylvania High School 200-yard low hurdles championship and anchored the Penn Relays Class IA relay championship team in 1951.

After graduation, Culbreath attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Culbreath became an instant star winning the Penn Relays Championship three times in the 400-meter hurdles. Culbreath also won the USA Amateur Athletic Union 440-yard hurdles championship three times from 1953 to 1955. Culbreath captured the 400-meter hurdles gold medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico City in 1955 and later in 1959 in Chicago, IL.

In 1956, Culbreath enlisted in the Marine Corps and served at Marine Corps Schools Quantico, VA, serving as a rifleman and a clerk. While a Marine, Culbreath won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the All-Marine and Armed Forces Championships in 1956. Later that year, Culbreath took home the 400-meter hurdles gold medal at the NATO Championship in Berlin, Germany.

1956 Olympics in Melbourne, AustrailiaCulbreath represented the United States at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. In a historic finish, Culbreath finished third behind fellow Americans Glenn Davis and Eddie Southern. Culbreath’s bronze medal solidified a clean sweep of the 400-meter hurdles, marking the first time for the United States in that event.

Culbreath, Track and Field ChampionshipIn 1957, Culbreath dominated the first World Military Track and Field Championship in Athens, Greece, capturing gold in the 400-meter hurdles. Later that year, Culbreath broke the World Record in the 440-yard hurdles in Oslo, Norway. In 1958, Culbreath left active duty and entered the Marine Corps Inactive Reserve until 1962. Culbreath rose to the rank of corporal before being discharged.

From 1958 to 1961 and 1963 to 1964, Culbreath worked as a special education specialist and guidance counselor at the Rittenhouse Junior High School in Norristown, PA. In 1961, Culbreath became an instructor and track and field coach for the U.S. State Department's International Cultural Exchange Program, serving in Patiala, India from 1961 to 1962 and in Baghdad, Iraq in 1965. While in Baghdad, Culbreath trained the Iraqi National Track and Field Team for the 1965 Arab Olympic Games in Cairo, Egypt.

Culbreath worked as a consultant for a number of firms during the late 1960's and 1970's. In 1980, Culbreath became Bill Cosby's physical fitness advisor and coach, and appeared in two episodes on the "Cosby Show" as Colonel Tailwind Turner in 1985 and 1986.

In 1988, Culbreath became the men and women's track and field coach at Central State University in Wilberforce, OH winning ten National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics titles and captured six Coach of the Year honors in eight years. Culbreath also coached four athletes in the 1996 Olympic Games with one athlete, Deon Hemmings, winning gold.

Culbreath has had many accolades during his career. His honors include an induction into the Morgan State University Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Norristown Hall of Fame in 1980. In 2002, Culbreath earned an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Edward Waters College and continues to serve as a consultant for a number of firms. Dr. Culbreath currently resides in Las Vegas, NV.