I was shocked when I received the news that Marty Reisman, one of the greatest ping pong legends, passed away on this past Friday morning…
I had the honor of meeting him during a Dirty Dozen tournament at SPiN New York two years ago when I moved to New York. Anyone who has ever met Marty can agree that once you met him, you would never forget him.
I still remember the first time I met Marty. He was wearing one of his signature stylish hats and some crazy trousers. After we were introduced to each other, he immediately pulled out his iPhone and started sharing his wonderful pictures and personal stories.
He showed me a famous picture of the time he defeated the great Victor Barna, five time world champion and Hungarian table tennis player, in the final of the English Open. Since I am from Hungary, this was especially entertaining.
I immediately adored his charming style and elegance. I only knew him for two years but it felt like I had known him forever. He was such a great character and grandfatherly figure for me. Wherever he showed up, he exuded a charismatic presence and it was hard not to notice him. And let’s not forget his style around the ping pong table; he was one of the most skilled and natural players even at the age of 82!
I had the chance to play against him and but we never managed to play a match. Perhaps that saved me from getting hustled by him! We did however collaborate in a couple of ping pong social events together. Below is a video of an event that we did together.
We also hung out and had great conversations about everything ranging from books to life to crazy ping pong adventures. He was 82 but had the heart and mindset of someone decades his junior. It was clear that he was destined to stay young in spirit as long as he lived. Without a doubt, his passion about ping pong played a critical role in keeping him young at heart.
I still remember him saying with great pleasure that he was currently “living the best life”. He often updated me about his latest media and news appearances. Marty truly was a superstar! Once I asked about what kept him going, considering that whenever I saw him he was always telling me about the latest projects that he was working on. He answered, “I’m always setting up newer and newer goals and that keeps me going. I have goals every day and I follow them and I enjoy life.”
It is still hard to accept that I’m not going to see him again. But it is certain that I will never forget him and he will always be an inspiration for me and for the world of table tennis. Importantly, he was a unique and irreplaceable persona for the sport.
Marty, the king of hardbat. Legend, money player, hustler and showman you will be missed. I know I will never meet anybody like you again. Whenever I think about you, it brings a smile to my face. You were an amazing combination of great energy, charisma and wicked cool style. Marty, you will always make me remember that in whatever we do, we have to do it with HEART, STYLE, and ELEGANCE. It doesn’t matter how old we are, we just have to go for our PASSION whatever it may be!
Rest in peace my dear legendary Marty Reisman.