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Knievel is X-treme's forefather
ABC Sports Online


Evel Knievel was the forerunner to today's daredevil. In an excerpt from an exclusive interview conducted for the Wide World of Sports 40th Anniversary, Mr. Knievel offered his thoughts on the X-Games, Mat Hoffman and Tony Hawk.

ABC Sports
Do you feel you kind of set the stage for these guys?

Evel Knievel
I think the X-Games are just fantastic, extreme sports. I've worked with some of the young women and some of the young men involved. I know I have been paid many compliments by the people that are involved in sports as maybe being a father of it all or however they want to put it. That's what they say and I'm very proud of that.
Tony Hawk
19 Aug 2000: Andy MacDonald and Tony Hawk (L-R) take to the air in the Skateboarding competition during the X-Games at Pier 30 and 32 in San Francisco, California. Mandatory Credit: David Leeds /Allsport

People should really strive to not have a thumb put on them. You can be a great performer and enjoy life, and you don't have to play team sports like football, baseball, basketball or hockey. You can excel yourself. I know a lot of them don't make the income that I did, but still there's a lot more to satisfying a human being because of their efforts, their skills and their triumphs, than there is to being paid a lot of money to do something. I admire them greatly.

ABC Sports
There are a few guys, Mat Hoffman, Tony Hawk for example. Do you feel they're doing what you did?

Knievel
Yes. Mat Hoffman is a personal friend of mine as is Tony Hawk. And in fact, Mat Hoffman manufactures the Evel Knievel bicycles. I'm very proud to be associated with him.

I think Mat's 11 or 12 years world champion at bicycle riding, and Tony, of course, started the skateboarding craze in this country.

They both excel at their business because they are part businessman, part showman. As far as my own experience with the things they do, I rode a bicycle and started bicycle racing in Butte, Mont., when I was 10 years old, jumping off of a ramp over a gully, jumping off of a ramp over some obstacle.

When I ski-jumped, I used to ski-jump at night, off of the 60 meter jump at a ski hill called Beef Trail. It's just something that came naturally to me. I liked to show off for the kids. I'd go up and jump off that big jump at night and all they could do is hear me holler when I came through the air till I landed.

The extreme sport thing has been a natural thing for me all of my life and I'm glad they're getting so much notoriety and publicity. I'm glad they're being paid now for what they're doing, I'm happy for them.

ABC Sports
Do you consider yourself the forefather of those extreme sports?

Knievel
Being the forefather of it is what they say I have been and I'm very proud of that.

ABC Sports
Talk a little bit about your relationship with Mat Hoffman.

Evel Knievel
I met Mat several years ago in Las Vegas at a show. He had an idea to manufacture Evel Knievel bicycles along with his Hoffman bicycles. We designed a bicycle together that was really a great performing bicycle. Mat manufactures them at his factory, assembles them and ships them. It's been a very successful thing and I'm very happy with it. I'm very proud to be associated with the guy.

ABC Sports
Can you tell us a little bit more about your business efforts with Mat and going to the extreme?
Mat Hoffman

Knievel
Well, Mat goes to the extreme, to do things on a bicycle. For instance, he has tied himself to a motorcycle, had it go at full speed, carry him to a ramp where he could take off and do a stunt in the air. What he does is very dangerous, believe me. Just because I did it on a motorcycle and he does it on a bicycle, I feel better on a good-size motorcycle that's got some real horsepower. His bike doesn't have too much shock absorber. I feel more comfortable on a bike like mine.

I know one thing when you do business with Mat Hoffman, his word is his bond. He's a good man to be in business with, and besides having the bicycle-riding ability he is quite a businessman, too.

I like to watch them (extreme athletes). I probably live more vicariously by watching some of the jumps that I made successfully. [LAUGHS] I don't really like to watch the accidents too much. But I really get a kick out of watching the X-Games.

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