Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Panggil aku King"

Lately there has been a resurgence of interest in Liem Swie King, the Indonesian badminton sensation known for his explosive “jumping smash,” who retired from the sport in 1988. First came the launch of an anecdotal biography of King on June 19, then the national release of “King,” the movie, on June 25.

The film tells the story of a poor boy growing up in Central Java who idolizes King and dreams of playing professional badminton.

The biography, “Panggil Aku King” (“Call Me King”), was written by Robert Adhi Kusumaputra, a senior journalist at Kompas, one of Indonesia's leading newspaper, and draws on a wide range of sources.

Kusumaputra covers territory that may be familiar to King fans, from the difficulties he faced as an ethnically Chinese sportsmen, to parenting three boys, to the final of the 1976 All-England badminton championship, which was tainted by rumors King allowed compatriot Rudy Hartono to win so that he had held the title an unprecedented eight times.

Liem Swie King was born in the Kudus region of Semarang in East Java. With the support of his parents, he enrolled in the training school of the Djarum Badminton Association. In those days, players trained in the Djarum cigarette factory after hours.

One of the focuses of his early training was learning to jump high and smash the shuttlecock powerfully to the baseline (back boundary line farthest from the net) — a skill that left opponents wondering whether the shuttlecock was going in or out. King used to take aim at a small trash can for practice and exhibited, his coach noted, astonishing speed and precision.

Kusumaputra said his favorite part of King’s story is when during a flood in East Java he has to sail along on a raft and hitch a ride with a military truck to reach the national team’s training center in Jakarta.

“It shows that to become a champion, there’s hard work to be done,” said Kusumaputra in an interview with Jakarta Globe recently.

King was perhaps Indonesia’s most celebrated athlete of the ’70s and ’80s, winning the All-England and World Championships, as well as the prestigious Thomas Cup.

Rudi Hartono writes in the book’s introduction: “My hope is that young players can follow [King’s] example … in focusing on national pride.”

Kusumaputra said of the biography: “I’ve fulfilled my dream to write a story about my idol … and thankfully we had great chemistry [during our interviews].”

Indeed “Panggil aku King” paints the former sports star as a beloved nationalist hero, giving readers — including this one — the sudden impulse to stand up and cheer.


  1. he's my favorite all time player. better than rudy hartono, 4 sure

  2. Marcose, please get one for me... dengan segera. Duit boleh masuk dalam akaun di AmBank.

  3. Marcose, get a copy for me; dengan segera. Duit dimasukkan dalam akaun di AmBank.