Few names dominate their sport in the way Tony Hawk managed to. While millions worldwide recognize Birdman for his world-famous skateboard console games and legendary feats, not everybody is acutely aware of the struggles and adversity he faced to reach the zenith of skateboarding. It takes a special attitude to become a global name in a niche sport, or any sport for that matter, there’s a select group of people who have a mentality that sets them apart from the competition, and today we will explore some examples of how Tony Hawk differentiated himself from the rest of his peers.
Cool Under Pressure
Somebody like Tony Hawk doesn’t just remain calm under pressure; they thrive under the pressure of competition. Tony has exemplified this in more areas than one. He has multiple successful, thriving businesses and hosted a popular radio show for over a decade. Many people don’t know that he also tried his hand at poker in a charity event, managing to bluff his way to a win against a professional poker player. Suppose there’s anything that is a testament to his skill. In that case, it is this ability to switch effortlessly between extreme sports like skateboarding and casino card games, like traditional poker tournaments, and not look out of his depth in the slightest.
Although Tony Hawk’s Underground, one of the many installments of his smash-hit console gaming series, has a casino level, Tony is not an avid casino player. However, this charity poker tournament gives us an insight into his relaxed frame of mind and ability to navigate a high-stakes game effectively. For instance, Ignition poker tournaments where you can use cryptocurrency might sound futuristic, but they work the same way as any high-roller poker game. The charity poker game Tony Hawk masterfully navigated follows the same rules in any traditional casino. It’s just that Ignition has adapted to the online market and Bitcoin payment systems.
For any sportsperson to reach the zenith of their sport, thousands of hours of practice and determination go into it. Even when others doubt them, they continue to believe in themselves. Before the golden years when he had his own skateboarding company and range of video games that netted him millions of dollars, Tony was just like many other skateboarders, struggling to get by. A recent HBO documentary about his rise to fame actually shows that he considered quitting, with many family and friends getting behind the idea of him moving into another profession to pay his mortgage and support his family.
However, Tony’s passion for skateboarding and his elite winning mentality made him strive for greatness and perfection for that moment that would define him as a pro skateboarder. In his quest to locate this unexplored path, he needed to challenge his mental fortitude to the limit, and this is where many people would have given up. This is not to suggest anybody who would give up should be considered weak, but Tony Hawk embodied the spirit needed to reach the pinnacle of your craft.
If one defining moment or trick manifested and projected Tony’s never say die attitude to the world, it was when he finally completed his “900” trick. For over a decade, Tony had been working on the legendary trick involving five 180-degree rotations mid-air. Following multiple incidents and injuries in a bid to finally land the trick, many fans and other professionals doubted whether Hawk could pull it off.
Again, as a testament to the mindset of the Californian, he finally landed the 900 at the X Games in 1999. It created hysteria and rapturous adulation in the crowds. As it was one of the few extreme sports that got decent television coverage, it defined Tony’s career and propelled him to mega-stardom. Although this record has since been beaten, it stood for over 20 years, and at the time, it was a complete revelation.
Resilience and determination to never quit are two of the biggest keys to success. Tony Hawk has made more money from skateboarding than he will ever need. When he was starting in his younger days with his niche hobby, he probably wouldn’t have dreamed that his exploits would eventually lead to a multi-million dollar net worth. However, his style, amicable personality, precocious ability, and winning mindset have all helped him succeed and set him apart from his peers.
There are rare examples of sportspeople who have transcended their sports to become bigger than the sport itself. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali are all names that immediately spring to mind. In extreme sports, because it operates on the fringes anyway, you could argue that Tony Hawk becoming a household name is even more impressive because golf, boxing, and basketball are much more popular as individual sports. However, none of this would have been possible without Tony’s drive and quest for greatness.