The 2012 Summer Olympic Games conjure up fond memories for San Quentin prisoner Ralph “Red” L. Ligons.
He was a world-class 100-meter sprinter who competed in the Olympic trials in 1972 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The same venue was used for the Olympic trials this year.
“It brings back memories of competing against guys like Ray Robinson, Eddie Hart and John Taylor,” Ligons said.
The 1972 summer Olympics were held in Munich, Germany. Ligons did not make to the games; however, he continued competing in track until 1975.
Sacramento State University track coach Stan Wright recruited Ligons out of high school. Wright was also the U.S. Olympic coach for the track and field at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. “Wright became the father figure I had been missing in my life,” Ligons said.
Ligons’ 10.1-second 100-meter record still stands at Sacramento State.
After his competition days, Ligons coached high school and college runners. He said coaching was a dream come true.
“Running taught me discipline, organization, to be a player, and the value of hard work,” Ligons said. “Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of those lessons.”
In 2001, Ligons was convicted of a three-strikes offense. He says his downfall was alcohol abuse and a fast lifestyle.
Ligons says today he’s clean and sober. “I credit the Addiction Recovery Counseling program at San Quentin for helping recognize my triggers in life,” he said in an interview.
“I credit the Addiction Recovery Counseling program at San Quentin for helping me recognize my triggers in life.”
He instructs the San Quentin running group called the 1000-Mile Club. His advice to runners: “Always seek to make yourself better, and believe in yourself.”
Ligons says he values his family more than anything in life, and is happy just watching the games on television.