By R.J. White |
The family of Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila, who won gold in the 1960 Olympic marathon held in Rome while running barefoot, is suing Vibram, the maker of Five Fingers foot-glove-style running shoes, saying the company used Bikila’s name without permission, the Associated Press reports.
In addition to naming some of the shoes after the marathoner, Vibram trademarked the name “Bikila” in 2010 with the popularity of the minimalist running shoes growing in the United States. However, in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, Bikila’s son, Terefi Bikila, said the company had no permission to do so.
“He won the Rome marathon with bare feet, and nobody did it before then or since then,” Bikila, 45, told the Associated Press Tuesday. “It’s important that his legacy be respected.”
Abebe Bikila was a late entrant into the 1960 Olympics, and when he didn’t like the fit of the shoes he had been provided, he opted to run barefoot on Rome’s cobbled streets, breaking the existing Olympic record by finishing the race in just over two hours, 15 minutes. Bikila went on to win Olympic gold again in 1964 in Tokyo just 40 days after having his appendix removed. The runner died in 1973 of complications resulting from a 1969 car crash that left him paralyzed.
The family is seeking at least $15 million in damages, according to their attorney.
The New York Road Runners, the organization behind the New York City Marathon, has given its Abebe Bikila Award each year since 1978 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport.
Source: CBS Sports