Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'sports'

Small Victories

November 27th, 2013 · No Comments

While recently pondering the precise definition of the word “deadpan,” I felt compelled to look up a quote that stuck with me as a kid. It comes from Boris Loginov, the coach of the Soviet Union’s motoball team, on the eve of the 1986 Goodwill Games. He was evidently asked to defend his sport, which […]

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Grudge Match

February 14th, 2013 · No Comments

When Senator Warren B. Rudman recently passed, I was struck by the concluding section of his New York Times obituary, which contained an anecdote that attested to his stubbornness: Mr. Rudman feuded with his alma mater long after he had left its campus. In 1952, Syracuse University withheld his bachelor’s diploma because he had refused […]

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So Far from the Zenith

February 6th, 2013 · No Comments

It is tough not to be saddened by the unraveling of English soccer hero Paul Gascoigne, who is currently drying out at an American rehabilitation facility after a very long, very public battle with a virulent strain of alcoholism. Like so many celebrities who we adore for their bad behavior, Gazza became trapped in a […]

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The Unapologetic Cipher

January 24th, 2013 · 5 Comments

I’m midway through David Remnick’s biography of Muhammad Ali, which is pretty much as stellar as you would expect. Yet there are times when I wish the narrative would instead focus on the tragic figure of Sonny Liston—what can I say, I’m attracted to characters who will never be universally adored, and who perhaps take […]

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Someone Take Him Up on This

January 15th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who we prefer to think of as The Armed Clown, has a famously high opinion of his own athletic prowess. Today that hubris led him to make a proposition that I hope he will live to regret, as he wrote a check with his mouth that his body surely cannot cash. […]

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The Not-So-Delicate Dance

January 8th, 2013 · No Comments

Scrambling like mad to deal with Wired and book-related duties as the week bleeds toward Humpday. Back tomorrow with something halfway spectacular about Chinese industrial espionage.

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Born to Greatness

December 19th, 2012 · 6 Comments

Alice Strick, the current world record holder in the Canadian-style one-foot high kick, is part of an athletic dynasty: her mother and cousin were also champions at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. While Strick’s feat in the clip above may seem effortless, I can assure you that it required near-superhuman athleticism. I know this because I […]

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The Micronesian Olympics

October 10th, 2012 · No Comments

The Micronesian Olympics—now known as the Micronesian Games for copyright reasons—were first held in 1969. As these photographs attest, the athletes competed in front of crowds that numbered in the dozens or even less. Yet those first Olympics still occupy a cherished place in the memories of Micronesian sports fans, particularly those whose tastes run […]

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Attention to Detail

September 28th, 2012 · No Comments

Deep apologies for failing to Microkhan much this week, but I have an excellent excuse: I’m in the thick of endnoting my book, which will finally start wending its way through the production process on October 15th. (Street date: June 15, 2013.) Back next week with plenty of tasty victuals; in the meantime, please check […]

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The Art of Getting By

September 21st, 2012 · No Comments

A while back, I explored the athletic means by which American prisoners-of-war coped with confinement in North Korea. That story popped to mind when I recently came across Bill Manbo’s color photographs of life in Japanese-American internment camps, which depict the unfortunate inmates’ efforts to inject some sense of normalcy into their daily lives. Sports […]

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A Real Political Gambit

September 11th, 2012 · No Comments

I was amused by the recent hullabaloo over whether athletes have a right to comment on controversial issues. There was something uniquely American about the controversy, for we are the rare nation that pretends that jocks must check their political leanings at the door. This concept must sound bizarre to the soccer fans of Brazil, […]

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Bobby Lee Hunter, Cont’d

August 21st, 2012 · 4 Comments

One of the great joys of this whole Microkhan endeavor is reaching folks who might not otherwise have occasion to check out our work. And some of those good correspondents are not only interested observers, but also characters in the various yarns we unspool. Our recent post about the rise and fall of incarcerated pugilist […]

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Reality Check

July 26th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Compared to the Games of the late Cold War, when steroids were integral to athletic success, this year’s Olympics will be remarkably clean. Yet we also know that drug use has not vanished—how could it, give the rewards at stake at the ultra-competitive nature of those tempted to use? The big question is what percentage […]

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Optimal Ransom

June 20th, 2012 · 6 Comments

When Nigerian soccer star Christian Obodo was briefly kidnapped earlier this month, I was struck not only by the boldness of the crime, but also by the crooks’ obvious sensitivity to economic realities. For as this early account of the caper makes clear, the kidnappers and Obodo’s family started the negotiations on more-or-less the same […]

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The Master of “What If?”

June 13th, 2012 · No Comments

A year ago I wrote about the great Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson, who passed away on Monday. I, like so many others, have always been awestruck by Stevenson’s willingness to forego a pro career, one that would have doubtless earned him millions of dollars. He instead chose to live a simple life in Cuba, where […]

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Reputational Dynamics

April 23rd, 2012 · No Comments

Watching Metta World Peace absolutely lose the plot in yesterday’s Lakers-Thunder contest made me think about the possible legal ramifications of on-court/on-field violence. Much has obviously been written about the possibility of treating such incidents as criminal matters, as has happened on occasion in the Canadian legal system. (The American system, by contrast, seems terribly […]

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Personal Incentives

April 5th, 2012 · No Comments

Continuing on with our semi-regular practice of shouting out old Sports Illustrated stories that have stuck in our mind, I’d like to call your attention to this “Where Are They Now?” piece about the fabled Steve Dalkowski—a man who recently popped to mind when news of Ryan Leaf’s latest travails broke wide. The thumbnail sketch […]

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After the Lights Switch Off

March 27th, 2012 · No Comments

So I have something pretty un-American to confess: this year, for the first time since my days in Dublin, I’ve been following Premier League soccer like mad. Things have gotten to the point, in fact, that I’m seriously considering a late-afternoon work break in order to watch the Sunderland-Everton FA Cup quarterfinal. I can’t only […]

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Considerable Exertion

March 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Stealing a day to seal myself up in the writing cave, with the goal of getting halfway through Chapter Fourteen. Occupy your spare moments by sifting through this impressively complete collection of vintage track-and-field trading cards. The comic-book covers are also worth your time; I had no idea about Scrooge McDuck’s pole-vaulting prowess.

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The Downward Spiral

February 10th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’m sorely tempted to launch a whole new Microkhan series about the late-career floundering of high achievers. I’m just fascinated by this concept of how the truly great cope with the inevitable diminishment of their skills, as well as the revelation that they really should have taken better care of their personal affairs while riding […]

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The Supple Flesh of a Champion

February 8th, 2012 · No Comments

My tremendous thanks to everyone who turned out for last night’s live performance in Soho, at which I hopefully did a passable job of explaining Yuriy Sedykh’s physical genius. There was one technical hiccup for which I must apologize, though—the video of Sergey Litvinov, the Soviet Union’s golden boy of the hammer throw, cut out […]

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Live Spot in Soho

February 7th, 2012 · No Comments

If you have access to the New York City subway system, please consider coming down to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe this evening to check out Microkhan in the flesh. I’ll be performing as part of the revamped Adult Education lecture series, waxing poetic about a certain Soviet hammer thrower who has gotten much attention ’round […]

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Striving for Perfection

January 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Given my attraction to tales about how folks cope with nasty twists of fate, I was bowled over to discover this rarest of Korean War artifacts: a program from the 1952 prisoner-of-war Olympics held at Pyoktong, North Korea. In addition to containing numerous photos of the sports contested—such as tug of war, football, and bizarre […]

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The Mad Dash

January 19th, 2012 · No Comments

Taking a day to plow through edits on Chapters Three and Four of the forthcoming book. Need to have the first 50,000 or so words to my editor by February 27th, so I’ll be ducking out on occasion to enter the hardcore writing bubble. Back tomorrow with a post about the dispiriting trend in Scottish […]

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The Worst Good Time

January 17th, 2012 · 4 Comments

I’m a few pages from the end of Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, a study of Thatcher-era football hooliganism that doubles as a meditation on crowd dynamics. It’s perhaps best known for its opening set-piece, in which the author tags along with a bunch of Manchester United supporters on a depraved trip to Turin. But […]

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Talk About Missing the Point

December 29th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz has long resided high atop my list of all-time athletic badasses, and not just because he mastered the most technically difficult event in all of track-and-field. When the Polish Kozakiewicz took gold in the pole vault at the 1980 Olympics, he did so in front of a hostile Moscow crowd that was pulling […]

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Legend of the Eggs

December 9th, 2011 · No Comments

I am regrettably a few days late in noting the untimely passing of Vasily Alexeev, the famed Soviet athlete who dominated the sport of weightlifting for most of the 1970s. Alexeev was an object of great fascination in the West, for he seemed to embody our deepest fears about the world behind the Iron Curtain: […]

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Alien in Alabama

November 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

The deeper I get into my latest book project—just crossed the 30,000-word mark—the more I keep digging into memories of my formative reading experiences. Doing so goes a long way toward helping me understand why I’m attracted to certain stories, and that self-awareness helps me separate the narrative wheat from the narrative chaff. Loyal followers […]

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The Catch

November 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

I love this whole approach of picking apart successful yarns to figure out what makes them work. To get myself in the book-writing mindset, I’ve been doing likewise with a bunch of great stories from my formative years—things that have managed to stick with me all these decades later. It’s probably no great shock for […]

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Have Boot, Will Travel

October 11th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Though the Faroe Islands are inhabited by less than 50,000 souls, the Danish dependency boasts its very own professional soccer league—one that includes four separate tiers of prestige, topped by the premier-level Vodafonedeildin. As this excellent photo set demonstrates, even the league’s most elite teams don’t draw enormous crowds—though, granted, the humans in those images […]

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