Mat Hoffman - The World's Most Extreme Athlete
The World's Most Extreme Athlete
BMX's Vert competitions might be the most extreme of extreme sports. The events show off incredible but dangerous bike stunts, crafted by some of the most daring, and some would say deranged, athletes in recent memory. The point is to get as high in the air with your bike as possible so you can come down with the most tricks possible; all while riding within the confines of a
twelve-foot high and sixty foot wide half-pipe. But if BMX is the most extreme sport, then that would make Hoffman the most extreme athlete. Hoffman, considered the greatest Vert rider of all time, pioneered the sport, changing it from a hobby of a select few to a huge community of exceptional athletes and millions of fans.
Hoffman was born January 9th, 1972 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He displayed his trademark eagerness for danger early on. At five, he leapt from two stories high with an open umbrella in his hands, inspired by television's The Flying Nun. Once he showed an interest in BMX bikes his father supported him by building bike ramps in the backyard. At first his mother, Joni, couldn't even watch him practice. But after Hoffman went amateur in the Bicycle Freestyle circuit at the age of thirteen, she knew he was good. She also knew he was hooked and when he got hooked there was no talking him out of it. Eventually, she became such a fan that she started bringing cameras to the competitions. Hoffman quickly climbed to the top of his amateur class and eventually became a pro at sixteen—his first record of many more to come.
He quickly established himself as an athlete unlike any other in his sport. He set record after record as he created new tricks on a weekly basis that captured the imagination of everyone who saw him perform. He believes his unique tricks may end up being his legacy "I just love creating new tricks," he told Ram Ganesan of New Straits Times. "It's all about using your imagination, being part of a constant building process. I believe in challenging myself, in seeing whether I can master a certain move." He holds the world record for "highest air," floating five stories high over a sold out auditorium. One of his biggest stunts got him a lot of media attention when he rode off a 3,800-foot cliff. With a parachute, of course.