The Path of a Pioneer: Tony Hawk

Before the X Games, the 900, or the Hall of Fame, there was just a skinny blonde boy with a skateboard. Growing up in southern California in the ’70s – with a challenging combo of energy and intelligence – little did Tony Hawk know he was destined to be almost single-handedly responsible for the evolution of skateboarding.

The First Skateboard

In 1977, Tony stood in his driveway holding his first skateboard. The blue fibreglass hand-me-down from his elder brother wasn’t obviously inspiring to in the 9-year-old, but the Bahne board kick-started a lifestyle.

By the age of 12 Tony had secured his first sponsor: Dogtown Skateboards; at 14, he was a professional skateboarder.

The Rise of Tony Hawk

Throughout the 1980’s, the popularity of skateboarding ebbed and flowed. Undeterred, Tony continued to skate. Practising at the Oasis Skatepark and winning NSA contests around California, he performed tricks well beyond his years.

Throughout his teens, Tony was a member of Stacy Peralta’s renowned Bones Brigade and featured in what was to become the most influential skateboarding videos of all time. The first narrative-led skate video became a cult classic that and launched Hawk’s career. Still in high school, he was making more money than his teachers in a profession most people didn’t even consider a real job.

By 1995, when the first X Games launched skateboarding onto the global stage, Tony Hawk was one of the best skaters in the world. As the sport shifted to mainstream, people began recognising his signature moves – the variable 540, the 700, and – after the ’97 X Games – the legendary 900.

Impact on Skateboarding

After a 17-year career, Tony Hawk retired from competition with a reputation that might never be matched:

·      73 pro contest wins before the age of 25

·      Vertical Skating World Champion for 12 consecutive years

·      two-time X Games Vert Champion

·      four-time X Games Vert Doubles Champion (with Andy MacDonald)

·      held the record for most rotations mid-air for 13 years

·      first skater inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame


Most importantly, Tony Hawk pioneered skateboarding from a simple past-time to an internationally celebrated sport.