If you mention skateboarding to almost anyone they will likely mention Tony Hawk. Is it because he is the best skateboarder of all time? Some folks would say “Yes, He is the best ever!” Others would say “Not even close!” The opinions can be strong on this topic, so lets break this down and see if in fact Tony Hawk is the best skateboarder ever.
From a vert skaterboarding point of view, Tony Hawk is the best skateboarder ever. Hawk pioneered vert tricks like the Airwalk, Madonna, Heelflip Varial Lien, and was the first to land a 900. Not only his pile of trohpies make him the G.O.A.T., his contributions to the community makes him stand out from the others.
Tony Hawk! Tony “F’N” Hawk, Baby!!! The name is synonymous with skateboarding. If you ask any non-skater to name a skater they will likely say “Tony Hawk.” The guy is a legend in and outside of the sport. His championship winnings, the countess tricks he’s invented, the shoe and clothing lines, the movies and tv credits he has, and not to mention the 20 “Tony Hawks Pro Skater” video game titles. The guys reach extends further beyond skateboarding than anyone else in the history of the sport.
Disclaimer: I am not a vert skater. I have never skated or even seen a vert ramp. There have been a few that existed in my country in my lifetime, but I have never had the occasion to see them before they were torn down. To be honest, I tend to zone out watching vert events on TV. I am not a vert guy. This is a completely unbiased piece on Tony Hawk. I do love the guy, but who couldn’t?!
Tony Hawk’s accolades reach far beyond that of any other skater. He is the most decorated skater in history. Its funny because he doesn’t keep his trophies like other skaters do. He gives them away.
If I was as accomplished in the contest world at Tony I would have a house full of trophies that my wife kept complaining about cluttering up the place. Tony told the Nine Club that he wanted to look forward and that keeping trophies seemed like holding on to the past when he had more to accomplish. (I paraphrase a great deal).
Tony Hawk has won over 64 major contests since his first win in 1983. That averages to be around 3 major contest wins each year. There are no skateboarders that can hold a candle to that record. That includes the time during the 1990’s when skateboard contests weren’t existent. The dude holds more victories than anyone to date.
Tony Hawk has created a pile of tricks for vert. While he has taken several of these tricks from flat ground skating, doing them in the air on a vert ramp completely changed them into something else. Doing a trick on flat ground is a world of difference from doing it on a vert ramp.
This is a very small list of the 80 some odd tricks that Tony Hawk pioneered.
- Ollie to Indy
- Heelflip Varial Lien
- Invert to layback air
- Kickflip McTwist
The 900 is by far his most recognized trick because nobody in 1999 he landed the first ever 900 degree rotation on a skateboard at the X-Games best trick competition. It was mind blowing to see that. I was watching it on my TV and had no idea that a human could pull that off.
Tony Hawk pulling off an unimaginable feat on a skateboard must make him the best. Tony Hawk pulled the first 900 ever when nobody thought that trick was even imaginable. That must make him the best skateboarder ever, no?
Only the best of the best in any sport, let alone a more obscure sport like skateboarding, get endorsement deals. And only the best of the best of the best are going to make a lucrative deal to get television commercials. Tony Hawk has done a ton of television commercials
Tony Hawk has done commercials for McDonalds, Bagel Bites, Subway, Doritos, Jeep, and Mountain Dew to name a handful. These huge companies aren’t going to pick up just anyone that is decent. They are going to require the best. Why? Because they are shelling out big bucks for the commercials. (Just like how rippedlaces.com is shelling out the big bucks for me!)
Tony Hawk landed all the tricks in these commercials. Aside from standard editing, all the tricks shown were landed. The guy is a beast. Sliding down a stair bannister was his idea. Tony wouldn’t do a commercial without authentic skateboarding.
Tony calls the years he did all these commercials the “Sell out years.” But guess what, they paid his bills. Skateboard contests and sponsors paid next to nothing in the 1990’s, and really they still don’t. Tony did a bunch of commercials for massive companies and was called a “sell out” for taking the big buck rather than starving for his art. I also called him a sell out at this point in time.
Back in the 90’s, us Gen-X folks had an issue with the authority that huge corporations held and with anyone bowing down to it. Bowing down to it meant that you sided with them by getting a deal where you made money. You were viewed as selling out your principles to join the man’s army. It was a big piece of being Punk Rock!
It was really stupid. Why wouldn’t someone making next to no money try to make more money to better their position in life? That is the crux of the American Dream. Tony Hawk followed this dream, but didn’t actually sell out his principles. He was eating Bagel Bites, Doritos, and eating at McDonalds and driving a Jeep. So he just endorsed the things he was already eating and using. Thats not really selling out, its more of being a spokesperson.
Tony isn’t ashamed of the things he endorsed, but he is a bit embarrassed by some of the commercials that came out. I don’t know about you, but if Mountain Dew wanted to give me a bunch of money to drink it in a commercial, I definitely would because I’m drinking it for free right now.
Tony Hawk has been huge in the charity world. His foundation, The Skatepark Project, has been building skateparks across the globe for the past several decades. Tony will not just show up in your town and throw a skatepark down, there is a process for your local government to go through. But once they show Tony that they have all the ducks in a row, Tony’s foundation is there to help them to the finish line.
In addition to building skate parks in non-affluent areas, he also gives money to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the Cystic fibrosis Foundation. The dude cranks his own money into a lot of different things outside of skateboarding.
Is Tony Hawk the Best Skateboarder Ever?
Nobody can argue that Tony Hawk is one of the best skaters to ever have touched a board. He has won a pile of trophies, done a bunch of commercials, been in movies, and puts a bunch of his own money back into charity work. Does that make him the best skateboarders ever? Maybe it just makes him a great human that happens to be a skateboarder.
In my opinion, Tony Hawk may be one of the best skateboarders ever. At the very least he is probably the best vert skater ever, and possibly one of the best people ever.