Press Release: Tony Hawk is the most influential skateboarder of all time, and his video game avatar has been known to every gamer for the last 20 years. Hawk is also a successful entrepreneur and founder of his own foundation for public skateparks. At ISPO Digitize Pioneers Night, the 50-year-old holds the kick-off speech. ISPO.com gives a short introduction to the US-American skateboard legend.
A few years ago in Paris, in the wonderfully spectacular Grand Palais, the “Tony Hawk Show” took place, a meeting of the world’s best halfpipe skateboarders. When Hawk – the most famous US sportsman according to a study – wanted to get to work with the board under his arm, they wouldn’t let him in. No VIP wristband. Even the reference to the 10×20 meter poster was useless.
No wonder: Hawk is wearing a suit and tie on the picture, which he rarely wears in real life. To the show, Hawk came as usual: jeans, sneakers, wide sweatshirt. The Normal One. And when he finally made it into the hall, you could only recognize him by the half dozen black-dressed bodyguards surrounding him. And he’s supposed to be a super star?
Hawk, is an innovator across many fields, always winner, idol to many age groups, graduate of the business route “beginner – success – bankrupt – millionaire – legend”. Throughout, he has remained the nice boy from next door: unpretentious, talkative, even if he has just been on a chaotic journey and is so tired that he can hardly keep his eyes open.
Hawk is at home in the halfpipe, is considered a pioneer of the so-called Vert style, in contrast to the street style. There is no skateboarder who has invented so many tricks and jumps, almost a hundred of them, including the Stalefish, Gymnast Plant and Airwalk.
One of the best known tricks he created is the “900”: a two-and-a-halffold rotation around the body’s longitudinal axis. Nearly twenty years ago, Birdman – his nickname – was the first to make this leap, and at the show in Paris, he could still do it in his fifth attempt. The spectators in the Grand Palais screamed with enthusiasm.
As a child, Hawk was hyperactive, aggressive, highly gifted, had unbridled energy and impatience that could only be channelled through the skateboard. More than once his mother sought professional help for him. She said, “His head tells him things his body can’t do.” But he adapted. The father, a former Navy officer, built the youngest of four children his own ramp in the garden.
He started skateboarding at the age of nine, had his first sponsor at age 12, became a professional at 14, was considered the world’s best at 16, bought his first house at 17 and his second at 19. Eleven years in a row he became skateboard world champion, won 73 of 103 professional competitions, won six gold medals at the X-Games, was featured in “People”, “Esquire”, “Rolling Stone” and the “New Yorker”.
He’s had plenty of challenges. As skateboarding’s popularity waned in the 90’s, his income shrank. His wife earned the money in a beauty salon. His relationships suffered, and it took several years before the struggling skater became a successful businessman. First, he sold boards and skate apparel but his financial breakthrough came in 1999 with computer and console games that still enjoy cult status in the scene. His autobiography “Profession: Skateboarder” is a bestseller, successful author Nick Hornby made him the hero of his novel “Slam”. The father of three sons and one daughter also set up a foundation to build skateparks in socially disadvantaged regions of the USA. And it goes without saying that the master is still on the board at the age of 50.
See Tony Hawk on the ISPO Munich at the ISPO Digitize Pioneer Night on February 4th in hall C6.