There are many sports out there that are not practiced by many and that even Jason Hanold doesn’t know about. These sports tend to be underrated or forgotten by the public because they don’t generate big bucks or because they are seen as different or just dangerous. In the last 20 years, alternative sports have been getting a lot of attention since the first X games in 1995 because they are representing what young kids want and how they want to express themselves. These sports have given people a way to express and to show how they see life. They tend to be dangerous and practiced by adventurous people.
These types of sports include extreme rollerblading, skateboarding, bmx, snowboarding, freestyle moto, and many others. And, within these sports you can see many athletes that are successful and that have made a career out of theses sports. Also, as in any other sport, there are retired athletes that go on to make their own lives in the same sport industry or with something different.
This is the case of Rodney Mullen, a professional skateboarder that took the sport to whole new different levels and that was at the top of his game in his teen years. Now, at the age of 50, he still skates a little bit but is now the owner of his own brand called Almost and is a part of the scene in many different ways. Let’s take a brief look at his life and what he is doing at the moment.
Rodney Mullen was born in Gainesville, Florida, United States, and started riding his skateboard at the age of ten in 1977. He saw the sport of skateboarding because a friend in his neighbourhood lent him his skateboard for some hours and he just fell in love. He promised his father that he would stop skating after arriving several times home with several serious injuries. He kept the secret because his dad thought that he would get hurt and never get good, and that the whole skateboarding culture was for mediocre people and people with no future. Mullen learned to skate in his garage, where he could find the little concrete needed to skate (he lived in a farmish town and there was no place to go besides his garage). He couldn’t do a lot of street skating or vert and pool skating as he lived far from cities and suburbs, so he invented a new way of skating called “freestyle” that consisted in doing tricks on a flat ground and with many feet movements and board flipping tricks.
He had a deal with his father to wear protection while he was skating and started to go out with his sisters friends that were surfers but skateboarded on weekdays. Mullen became obsessed with the skateboard and practiced for many hours on a daily basis and slept with special boots to correct a pigeon toe condition he had since he was a child. Despite all this, he became one of the best skateboarder in the world.
As a professional skateboarder he started skating for Bruce Walker and his company Walker Skateboards from 1978 to 1980. The biggest influence Rodney Mullen had came from names such as Jim McCall, who was coached in his early years by Walker, who also coached a young Kelly Slater; Womble, George McClellan, Clyde Rodgers, Tim Scroggs, and Kelly Lynn.
In 1980 Rodney Muller started competing seriously and at the Oasis Pro competition he defeating the world champion, Steve Rocco. With this victory, he became professional and went to ride for the Bones Brigade team, sponsored by Powell Peralta. Powell Peralta was co-owned by Stacy Peralta, who Mullen highly admired. Until the year 1990 he won 13 competitions, outperforming a lot of skaters with his consistency and progression.
At the end of the last century, around the years 1998-99, Mullen was part of the design and creation of his own skateboard truck concept, a concept that would later become the foundation for the company, Tensor. In 2000, Mullen filed for a United States patent in support of his innovative work. Mullen then co-founded Almost Skateboards with Song. Mullen and Song started the company with a very good base of amazing riders such as Cooper Wilt (a former Artefact rider), Chris Haslam (a former Deca and Artefact rider), Greg Lutzka, and Ryan Scheckler
In 2015, Mullen wrote the foreword for the Dwindle and Globe history book Unemployable: 30 Years of Hard-core, Skate and Street that showed his 20 years involved in the skateboarding industry. He is now considered a forefather of freestyle skateboarding, a professional skateboarder, entrepreneur, inventor, and public speaker who practices freestyle and street skateboarding on his free time. Not bad for a 50 year old retired professional skateboarder.