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REVENGE CAN BE SOUR
Skip Myslenski
May 25, 1970
Marty Liquori defeated Kip Keino for the first time in the Martin Luther King Games, avenging the humiliating loss he suffered last winter, but sweet it wasn't as the Kenyan gave up in the stretch
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May 25, 1970

Revenge Can Be Sour

Marty Liquori defeated Kip Keino for the first time in the Martin Luther King Games, avenging the humiliating loss he suffered last winter, but sweet it wasn't as the Kenyan gave up in the stretch

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Waiting in his room, Marty Liquori tried not to think about Kipchoge Keino and the race they would run in four hours. He leafed through Francis Bacon's essay, Of Revenge, reading out loud: "That which is past is gone and irrevocable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come." But he couldn't forget the evening four months back when Keino had humiliated him in the mile at the Philadelphia Track Classic.

Later that afternoon he would get his pride back, beating Keino over 1,500 meters at the Martin Luther King Games in Villanova, Pa., but now he was still, in his words, "brickin'. You know, he's the only miler of any repute that I haven't beaten. The recent great ones—[Bodo] T�mmler, [J�rgen] May, [Jim] Ryun and Keino—well, I've beaten three of them. Now I want four of a kind. That's a hard hand to beat."

Liquori's father walked in. He held up a bandaged thumb. "Bowled a three-game series of 640," he said. "With a bad thumb."

"Great," said Marty.

His father talked about bowling for 15 minutes. Outside, in the hall, his mother sat alone. "I can't stand to be with Marty on days of races," she said. "He's just so wound up, and I'm scared to death." When his father left, Liquori watched an old Army movie on television—the same one he had seen, on another channel, the night before.

Last week was a strange one for Marty Liquori. Faced again with the specter of Keino, he became more intense, testier. "He's on edge," said his Villanova teammate, Dick Buerkle. "I've never seen him like this." "It's the fear of losing," Liquori said. "It's the loss of face. It's not so much wanting to beat Kipchoge Keino. It's my not wanting Marty Liquori to be embarrassed." Rather than spending early afternoons hitting short irons, as is his habit, he lay quietly in bed reading or just thinking. Tuesday night he dreamed not only of Keino but of all five Kenyans who would be at the meet. They were running races with their hands clasped behind their heads, smiling, showing everyone just how easy it is. Even while practicing, Liquori couldn't get Keino out of his mind. Striding through quarters, he would imagine the race. "I'd try not to think of it," he said, "but it kept popping into my mind. I'd think of relaxing, striding, then lifting and exploding. I'd run these imaginary races. I'd come off the last corner, lift, pass Keino—and always win."

Keino, on the other hand, seemed bored; he visited friends, walked the streets of Philadelphia. He and his compatriots went to visit Muhammad Ali. "He taught us how to box," said Keino. "We taught him how to run."

He performed a Kenyan version of the Ali Shuffle—something on the order of Fred Astaire trying to do the Funky Chicken.

Mornings, Keino would disappear, then just as quickly reappear. He was, actually, on a sense trip. He would be up at 6 "to run a couple of miles around the banks. Got to be early. The first one up gets fresh air." He would eat at coffee shops ("Service is too slow in the hotel"), frown at the sound of a truck jouncing through a chuck hole ("Not so much noise in Kenya"), giggle at a girl dodging cars as she crossed the street ("Form doesn't count. She's running for her life"), dismiss The New York Times ("Too heavy"), Cardin suits ("Too many buttons"), American ties ("Too wide") and French after-shave lotion ("Ugh, that's for girls").

Thursday he visited Germantown High School and finally had to talk track and the coming race.

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