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Rodney Mullen – the father of street skateboarding

When it comes to skateboarding, many people mention Tony Hawk or Bob Burnquist. But only true lovers of this sport remember Rodney Mullen – a skateboarder who invented the most of the tricks. He is the skateboarder who is more known by his nickname “The father of street skateboarding”. Winning his first competition at the age of 14, he won 34 of 35 competitions in a row – this is the longest winning streak ever. Born on August 17, 1966, he is the same thing like Pele for football – a legend that will always be remembered.

Rodney Mullen – early life and unstoppable winning streak

Born in Gainsville, Florida, Rodney Mullen has always been a hyperactive kid. Despite his father didn’t let him skate, he was very persistent and injuries didn’t stop him. He always had one goal – to become the skateboarding superstar. He started training in the garage with comprehensive pads. He progressed every day and soon he had a wish to compete. Despite severe dexterity of his feet, he never gave up his dream.

The first success occurred in 1978 – despite having the skateboarding for only one year, Rodney Mullen was fifth in Boy’s Freestyle Category. The crucial turn in his life occurred in 1979 when Bary Zaritzky started to train him. As an extremely motivated child, he was designed for success.

In 1980, Rodney Mullen won the first professional competition, defeating the world champion Steve Rocco in the finals. Later he turned professional as the member of Bones Brigade team. Until the year 1990, Mullen won 34 of 35 competitions. He will always be remembered by the tons of new tricks he invented – there is no bigger innovator to this day – even Tony Hawk didn’t have that much influence. He was an extremely attractive competitor.

In 1989, Rodney Mullen joined World Industries with his long-time rival, Steve Rocco, in the formation of the very first skateboarder-owned company – Mike Vallely, a professional skateboarder, also joined after a period of time. The company later developed in one of the biggest skateboarding manufacturers in the 21st century.

He invented many ollie and kickflip tricks, which are known even today. Here are some of his tricks – Godzilla rail flip, 360 ollie, helipop, flatground ollie, 50/50 Casper, 50/50 Saran wrap, no-handed 50/50, no-handed 50/50 kick flip, heel flip, double heelflip, sidefinger, Ollie nosebone, Ollie finger flip, Ollie airwalk, Casper slide, heel flip darkslide, handstand flips, rusty slide and many others.

Rodney Mullen and street skateboarding

The popularity of freestyle skateboarding was decreased, so Rodney Mullen transformed his skating style to join street skateboarding. This video will 100% leave you breathless!

After transforming his skateboarding style, Rodney joined a high-ranked team, Plan B, in 1991. Mullen was excellent in the streets or skating on the flat surface, but he had a problem with ramps and other obstacles. In 1992, Rodney Mullen completely changed his skateboarding style to a combination of freestyle tricks on the public ground and extremely complicated tricks on natural obstacles. A new era of skateboarding started. Mullen mastered many tricks during 1992 and 1993, of which the most known is the darkslide. Mike Ternasky was an amazing support to Rodney. He filmed him many times and learned him a lot of new tricks and obstacles. When Mike Ternasky was killed in a car crash in 1994, Rodney Mullen had no choice but to leave Plan B. The death of Ternasky was a big blow for Mullen and he was never the same after that event.

Mullen started another company in 1997, the A-team. He also filmed a video  Rodney vs Daewoon, where he skated against his fellow rival Daewoon Song. There are two parts of this video.

Rodney Mullen quickly transformed into the founder of Enjoi Skateboards. This is one of the most famous brands. At the end of 21st century, he was very busy trying to design his own skateboard truck concept. In the end, Rodney created a skateboard which creates less friction and has better gripping features, improving the certain maneuvers of the rider. A subsequent advertisement was released – The Patented Tensor Design. Many famous skateboarders were recruited – Ryan Sheckler, Daewoon Song, Chris Cole, Chris Haslam, Salman Agah… In the year 2002, Steve Rocco decided to sell World Industries for 46 million dollars. Rodney Mullen and Steve Rocco became millionaires overnight.

In 2003, Rodney released his own autobiography – The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself.

Rodney Mullen – stance corrections and present days

From 2007 onward, Rodney Mullen dedicated himself to stance correction. He worked to erase his riding stance, allowing him to ride a skateboard in the absence of the conception of “the stance”. Mullen had a problem with scar tissue, which was created in his leg as a consequence of hyper-extending his leg while skating. However, he was able to create a unique stance which provides him better balance and a lot more control. He declared that switches in his stance enabled him to stay so successful.

When he was asked to identify his favorite skateboarders, Rodney Mullen had an endless list, but on the top of it were Chris Haslam, Bryan Herman, Paul Rodriguez, Antwuan Dixon and Eric Koston.

The first official appearance of Rodney Mullen on YouTube occurred in 2014, on Tony Hawk’s RIDE channel. Mullen has also been a part of Globe brand’s “EUTrippin” 2015 European Tour, alongside other team members. In 2015, he wrote a foreword for Dwindle and Globe history book Unemployable: 30 years of Hardcore, Skate, and Street.

Rodney Mullen – other significant facts

There were many awards Rodney Mullen received. The Transworld Readers’ Choice Award for Skater of the Year was won in 2002. in 2011, he earned his place in the list “30 Most Influential Skateboarder of All Time”, issued by Transworld. Rodney Mullen took third place, after Marc Gonzalez and Tony Hawk. In 2013, he earned his place in Skateboarding Hall of Fame. Paul Rodrigez identified him as the most influential skateboarder and one of top 10 stars of this sport of all time. Transworld characterizes him as possibly the best skateboarder of all time.

Rodney Mullen is known to be an outstanding spokesman. He had numerous appearances in public speaking engagements like personal life, skateboarding, innovations, creation and the concept of the community. The year 2014 is extremely known for his motivational speech. In June 2014, he presented the “Build on a Bedrock of Failure”, in which he declared there are no injuries for a professional skateboarder. He sent a message which responses even today – failure, pain, injury, recovery and other obstacles are the component on your way to the success. You have to accept it if you want to become a professional. He is known as the person who is able to motivate thousands of competitors by only one speech. His charisma is stunning.

Rodney Mullen appeared in all parts of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Pro Skater 2, Pro Skater 3, Pro Skater 4, Underground, Underground 2, American Wasteland, Project 8, Proving Ground, Ride, Pro Skater HD. He is the only character who appears in all parts of this wonderful video game.

He has two movie appearances – Gleaming the Cube in 1989, where he acts the double of Christian Slater, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, where he acts the double of Ben Stiller. There are also 2 documentaries – Waiting for Lighting (2012) and Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story (2015).

There were many famous statements of Rodney Mullen. In 2010, he confessed skateboarding is a very unhealthy and dangerous. He said he saw many skateboarding champions with their knees and ankles ruined, but he described skateboarding as the biggest bless he could get when he was a child. For him, skateboarding is not just a sport, it is a great way to establish the community. It gave him a place, a sense of belonging. It helped him fight his way out. He is very happy since he was able to contribute, and he describes skateboarding as the open source community.

When attending Biarritz skateboarding festival, he confessed Mike missed him a lot and his life has drastically changed since Mike’s death in 1994. He was even crying while talking – Mike was a man who always gave second chance. He describes Mike as a very instrumental and calculated man who led him along the way and shew him all tiny things which helped him develop in the world of skateboarding.

The most controversial statement was spoken by Rodney Mullen in June 2014. While attending O’Reilly Media’s Velocity conference, he made a statement which shocked the world. He described skateboarding as an art, not as a sport. And many people asked him why skateboarding cannot be a sport. He thinks it is a lifestyle or philosophy.

“But a sports approach would not ask you to focus on your strengths and weaknesses. You would never live that kind of life, you would have free time and you would relax. However, if you fix yourself to one goal and see nothing else on the horizon – this simply cannot be a sport, this is a lifestyle. If you continue to fall, it will grind you and you will be destroyed in the end. But if you learn something from your fails, it will never end you and your personality will develop.”

There were many videos Robert Mullen filmed. Here are some of them:

  • Power Peralta, five videos (1982-1988);
  • World Industries: Rubbish Heap (1989);
  • Plan B, three videos (1992 – 1994);
  • Rodney Mullen vs Daewoon Song, two videos (1997, 1999);
  • Globe, two videos (2001, 2008);
  • Almost: Round Three (2004);
  • Transworld: Show me the way (Darkslide);
  • Tony Hawk’s Secret Skatepark Tour (2005);
  • John from Cincinnati (skate double, 2007);
  • Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (2012);
  • Gracias Skateboarding Volumen Uno (2014).

Here is his most famous statement (2003): “I can’t wait to wake up in the morning… A lot of times I can’t sleep because I can’t wait to try something new. How many people ever really experienced that feeling?”

Robert Mullen – personal life

Robert Mullen lives with his girlfriend Lori Guidroz in California since 2013. Mullen confesses he likes to state at late night. He still acts like a juvenile.

He has few more interests besides skateboarding – physics, mathematics, engineering, and music. It is known he has a pair of high-powered audio speakers, each one of them weighs 200 lbs. His favorite music group is Sabaton, because of war songs. He is a huge fan of power metal. He also likes Beethoven, when he wants to calm himself down. He says he can relax whole body while listening to his favorite songs. He is also very grateful to his neighboors for showing understanding for his behaviour.

In 2013, musicians Ben Harper and Lee Hartney described Robert Mullen as their “brother”, due to the close relationship they have for a long period of time. Robert Mullen assisted Harper to learn skateboarding.

Robert Mullen claims he is the Jesus freak, but the term religion burns him out.

 

Hope you learned something new today. Robert Mullen is the founder of many tricks, many skateboards and many innovations in the world of skateboarding.

If you want to start skateboarding, stop by UrbanSurfer and check our latest collection of skateboards.

 

 

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir is an educated coach, a master of sports and physical education. He trained some famous world-class soccer players, like David Babunski, Dorian Babunski, Stefan Mitrovic... The portfolio is available here - http://worldsportcamps.com/vladimir-vladisavljevic/

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