Eight things you need to know about skateboard pioneer Tony Hawk

American skateboarder famous for more than just helping his daughter drop-in to a halfpipe for the first time.

Tony Hawk is universally recognised as one of the true pioneers of skateboarding.

But he's just won thousands of new fans on social media, thanks to a video of him and his daughter.

On Sunday, the California native posted to Instagram the moment he helped his nervous 10-year-old Kadence drop down a vert ramp for the very first time.

Hawk undoubtedly cut a more worried figure as a teacher than he did on the board, but the result was, predictably, perfect.

More than anyone, he helped spread skateboarding around the world with the sport due to make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

But what else do you need to know about Tony Hawk?

1) Tony Hawk - Pro Skater At 14

Born in San Diego on 12th May 1968, Anthony Frank Hawk was a bundle of energy as a child, with his parents encouraging his love of skateboarding as an outlet.

Good decision from them.

Skateboarding was very much a niche activity in 1970s and 80s America, but Hawk - despite being picked on by classmates - was able to develop his skills rapidly.

With an IQ of 144 and good grades, Hawk was the opposite of the stereotypical high school drop-out.

And he continued his studies after turning professional at 14.

Hawk’s dad even convinced him to invest in buying his first house while he was still at high school, at the age of 17.

There were plenty more houses to come too with Hawk the standout performer on the National Skateboard Association (NSA) Tour, winning multiple titles.

Tony Hawk at X-Games Barcelona in May 2013
Tony Hawk at X-Games Barcelona in May 2013Tony Hawk at X-Games Barcelona in May 2013

From the mid-1980s onward, he was the world's premier skateboarder.

In 1995, Hawk won his first of 10 X Games titles at the inaugural event in Rhode Island.

And in 1999, came his defining moment.

2) Hawk Achieved The First '900' In History, 17 Years Before His Last

Hawk had been trying for years to perform a '900' (two and a half mid-air revolutions) in competition.

At X Games 5 in San Francisco 1999, it finally happened.

His desire to achieve the trick bordered on the obsessional, with his fellow competitors stepping aside to let him have the halfpipe to himself.

And on the 12th attempt, he made it.

Hawk was still winning events into his mid-30s before age dulled his competitive edge.

As he entered retirement from major events he became more of a mentor to younger skaters as well as an ambassador for the sport.

But Hawk could still perform tricks and managed to pull off 900s for several years.

And exactly 17 years after that first 900, aged 48, he repeated the feat for the final time.

His second son, Spencer, was just three months old when Hawk performed his first.

And he was there to see his last.

3) Hawk And Other Action Sports Superstars Can Sing!

Hawk is good friends with three-time Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medallist Shaun White, and 11-time surfing world champion Kelly Slater.

And the trio got together for some Carpool Karaoke!

While Slater will quit professional surfing before his sport makes its debut at Tokyo 2020, White has been working on his skateboarding with an eye on a switch for Japan.

It’s not such a far-fetched idea either, as 'The Flying Tomato' has two X Games gold medals on the vert.

Is there anything these guys can’t do?

4) Hawk Was The First Skater In The White House

For years, skateboarding was seen as a counter-culture activity with its young participants not always welcome in towns.

But Hawk almost single-handedly raised its profile, signing major sponsorship deals and bringing the activity to the mainstream.

He was among the first intake of inductees into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2009.

Also that year, Hawk was doing heel-flips at the White House.

President Barack Obama invited the skater to his June Fathers Day celebration with Hawk skating in the hallways of the nearby Old Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.

When Obama's second term ended in January 2017, Hawk showed his gratitude.

Hawk continues to take skateboarding to pastures new.

In 2012, he led the first ever Vert demonstration in India with Hawk and fellow skateboarders also visiting the house of late civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi.

5) Tony Hawk is a Skateboarding Philanthropist

The Tony Hawk Foundation, created in 2002, helps build skateparks in underprivileged communities in the United States and around the world.

It has also supported the Skateistan programme in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.

  • Kickflips in Kabul: Tony Hawk wowed by Afghan skater girls

    Kickflips in Kabul: Tony Hawk wowed by Afghan skater girls

Hawk is delighted at skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport, and hopes it will assist further growth of the sport in developing nations.

"It’s a validation that’s been a long time coming. I think that skateboarding has been a valid competition sport for… ever since I started, for 40 years. So for it to finally be accepted into Tokyo, to me it seems like it’s long overdue, especially with the inclusion of snowboarding so long ago in the Winter Games.

"It’s going to be widely recognised internationally in places where they’ve never seen skateboarding, and they’re going to appreciate it even more.

"We’re going to see prolific skaters from the most unlikely countries, like Ethiopia, like Cambodia, even Afghanistan. There are already strong skate scenes there and people are starting to develop new skillsets.

"I feel like the sky’s the limit in terms of transcending borders and cultures and skateboarding will be a very eclectic mix of people from all over the world."

And he's always keen to share tips with younger skateboarders.

Tony Hawk’s secrets to success

Tony Hawk’s secrets to success

6) Tony Hawk Is A Video Game Superstar

Hawk has appeared in several movies as an actor, but he's better known for putting his name to a [series of hugely successful video games](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TonyHawk%27s(series), starting with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in 1999.

The following year, THPS spawned a sequel - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - which was named Video Game of the Year 2000 by Electronic Gaming Monthly and remains one of the best-reviewed ever.

According to Guinness World Records, it became the best-selling extreme sports video game of all time with over two million units were sold in the United States alone.

Over the years, the gameplay and titles changed with Tony Hawk's Underground (THUG) in 2003 adopting a more story-based approach, while Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam focused on racing opponents.

The last of the original Tony Hawk's series published by Activision was in 2015 - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 - featuring top boarders including Nyjah Huston and Leticia Bufoni.

But fans have kept the brand alive with Tony Hawk's Underground 2 becoming the template for an online multiplayer game known as THUG Pro.

After the end of the Activision deal, Hawk said he wanted to be part of a new game.

And December last year saw the release of Tony Hawk's Skate Jam for mobile phones.

7) People Know Who Tony Hawk Is... Some Of The Time

Hawk is one of the most recognisable skateboarders on the planet.

But he does lack distinguishing features, such as an outlandish hairstyle or obvious tattoos, leading to people sometimes not realising quite who he is.

And Hawk has taken to detailing those (usually air travel-based) encounters on social media.

And even when the interactions are not quite so pleasant, Hawk tends to have the last laugh.

8) Tony Hawk Gave Up A Musical Instrument To Focus On Skateboarding... And Tells A Good Dad Joke

We finish where we began, with Tony Hawk's role as a parent... not just as the father of skateboarding, but also of his own children.

The American revealed to Olympic Channel that he tells a great dad-joke.

He came clean live on air at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, and also revealed the musical instrument he gave up to focus on skateboarding.

Check it out - The Hawk interview starts after 12'00 of the show, and as well as jokes and secrets, he told us how far skateboarding has come in its journey to Olympic inclusion for Tokyo 2020.

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