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Marty Reisman
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    (February 1, 1930-December 7, 2012)
    Born in Manhattan, New York
    Table tennis player
    Two-time US men's singles champion (1958,1960)
    Won the English Open (1949)
    Founding member of Table Tennis Nation (2010)
    He took up table tennis to soothe his nerves after a nervous breakdown -- at age nine.
    When he was 15, he was ejected from the national tournament when he placed a $500 bet on himself with a man who he thought was a bookie but turned out to be the head of the US Table Tennis Association.
    He would attract bets by playing sitting down or blindfolded.
    Over his life, he earned -- and lost -- about $3 million gambling.
    The only regular job he ever held was a brief, and disastrous, stint as a shoe salesman. ('No one has ever been less suited for regular employment than I was.')
    He liked to measure the height of the net using a $100 bill. (He noted that $1s were the same height, but why be 'chintzy' about it?)
    He gave exhibitions (often using a frying pan in place of a paddle) during the halftime of Harlem Globetrotter games.
    At his peak, he was credited with the fastest forehand in the world.
    He was a colorful personality who was often called a Damon Runyon character come to life.
    Publisher Harry Evans said, 'His wit is as delicious as his drop shot.'
    At 67, he became the oldest person to win a national title in a racket sport when he won the 1997 US Hardbat Championship. (Hardbat is table tennis played with 'classic' paddles that are not covered in sponge rubber.)
    Even in his 80s, he could perform his signature trick, the 'Marlboro Massacre': driving a ball across the net to break an upended cigarette on the other side in two.

Credit: C. Fishel

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