American BMX rider
Mat Hoffman, five years old, stood at the top of a home-made ramp in the family's backyard, perched on his BMX bike with only an older brother's grip to keep him from falling over the edge. He pleaded with his brother to hold on tight so, as older brothers will, he dropped him. Hoffman flew down the ramp, and took the jump while keeping his balance. After yelling at his brother for the breach in confidence, Hoffman demanded they do it again. And with that, an extreme athlete was born.
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.
Pioneer on a Bicycle
While America's youth abandoned BMX in droves in the 1980s and early '90s Hoffman stuck with it and displayed an athleticism that drew millions of kids back into the fold. Primarily known for his incredible jumps and innovative stunts, Hoffman, also known as 'Condor,' likes to make a point that BMX isn't simply a sport, it's a lifestyle. His successful forays into promotion, design, manufacturing, and licensing back him up; his name has been on everything from an autobiography (The Ride of My Life ) to best-selling video games (BMX Pro 1 and 2) to his own Hoffman-branded merchandise, like a recent action-figure lineup that sold 1.7 million figures.
But the notoriety came with a lot of pain. After fourteen operations, fifty broken bones and a three day coma, Hoffman's love for BMX has taken its toll on him. "I actually flat-lined once," he told ESPN's Dan Patrick. In 1993, after a stunt for MTV went bad, Hoffman's spleen burst. The doctors thought Hoffman had around twenty minutes to live due to excessive internal bleeding. They removed his spleen as a last-ditch effort and it ended up saving his life. "You can say I've challenged medical science on several occasions," he told Patrick. His attitude toward such risk? He told Sophia Hollander of the New York Times, "In order to experience all the pleasures and successes in life, you have to be willing to take all the pain and failures."
|1972||Born January 9 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|1985||Goes amateur in the Bicycle Freestyle circuit at the age of 13|
|1988||Goes pro at the age of 16, a sport record|
|1991||With BMX suffering, Hoffman starts his first business, Hoffman Promotions, meant to promote his own image as well as vert riding|
|1992||Starts Hoffman Bikes, a line of bikes designed by Hoffman.|
|1993||Starts Hoffman Manufacturing to keep up with demand for the Hoffman Bikes lineup|
He founded Hoffman Promotions in 1991, a company designed to promote Hoffman's skyrocketing fame and, consequently, BMX in general. That same year he began to design and manufacture bikes under the Hoffman brand. Though he started small (the industry was in a serious slump) his company now churns out around 30,000 bikes a year. But his greatest contribution to the sport may be the Hoffman Sports Association (HSA), responsible for producing ESPN's successful X Games. The X-Games, a competition designed for extreme sports like BMX and skateboarding, has become a phenomenon after only a few short years. Cities around the world vie to host the games since they're reported to net tens of millions of dollars for local economies. HSA also developed the Crazy Freakin' Bikers Series (CFB), a competition that provides stunt bikers a forum to compete in. Over the years it has become a major stepping-stone to the Bicycle Stunt (BS) Series. In a true testament to his well-deserved pioneer reputation, Hoffman has earned Vert series titles for the CFB, the BS Series, and has been world champion ten times.
Athlete and Entrepreneur
Hoffman was injured so often that he got used to waking up from a bad stunt with no idea who he was. He would need someone there to remind him and fill him in on why he was hospitalized. But after surviving a frightening accident during big-ramp racing (where a motorcycle drags the bike full throttle to the top of the ramp and then releases it) his wife held their newborn baby up and played with her to remind him of what he'd miss if he kept going. He agreed to retire from the riskier stunts, but swears he'll keep going until he can't go any more. "When the day comes that I choose to not ride anymore it won't be because of injury," he wrote in his ESPN online journal. "It will be because the challenge of injury will have become more than what my will and determination can overcome." In the meantime, Hoffman continues to build his legacy by performing in select competitions and even appearing in movies. His most recent appearances include XXX and Jackass: The Movie ; as well as an IMAX film called Ultimate X: The Movie.
Because of Hoffman's tireless dedication to his sport, BMX and many other "extreme sports" have become commercially viable and respected, especially among the world's young people. He lives in the same town he grew up in, Oklahoma City, with his wife, Jaci, and their daughter, Giavanna.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1987||Wins first Vert World Championship|
|1989||Lands his first 900 - a double spin on the bike|
|1995-96||1st Place, X-Games, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|1997||3rd Place, X-Games, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|1999||1st Place, Freestyle Challenge, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|1999||1st Place, B3, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, X Games trial, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, X Games trial, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, World Championships, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, Soul Bowl, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, Freestyle World Championships, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, CFB, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, CFB, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, CFB, Overall Bicycle Stunt|
|2000||1st Place, Bicycle Stunt Series, Overall Bicycle Stunt|
|2000||1st Place, B3, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, Alp Challenge, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2000||1st Place, Alp Challenge, Bicycle Stunt, High Air|
|2001||1st Place, CFB, Bicycle Stunt, Vert|
|2001||Launches 26 ½feet off of a 24 foot ramp, achieving a world record 50 feet of air|
|2001||ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards honored Hoffman with a Lifetime Achievement Award|
Address: Mat Hoffman, Hoffman Bikes, 4307 N Walnut Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105.
Ganesan, Ram. "Promise of the Flying Condor." News Straits Times—Management Times (January 10, 2003).
Hollander, Sophia. "Taking Life to the Edge, And Spins and Jumps, Too." New York Times (October 8, 2002): D2.
Patrick, Dan. "Outtakes with Mat Hoffman." ESPN.com.http://espn.go.com/talent/danpatrick/s/2001/0808/1236775.html (December 6, 2001).
Sketch by Ben Zackheim
"Hoffman, Mat." Notable Sports Figures. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hoffman-mat
"Hoffman, Mat." Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hoffman-mat
Hoffman, Mat 1972-
HOFFMAN, Mat 1972-
Born January 9, 1972, in Oklahoma City, OK; son of Matthew (a medical supplies salesman) and Geovanna Hoffman; married Jaci Keel (a ballet dancer), 1993; children: two. Hobbies and other interests: Sky diving and other extreme sports.
Office —Hoffman Enterprises, P.O. Box 18931, Oklahoma City, OK 73154. Agent —Brian Dubin, William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
Amateur freestyle BMX stunt bicyclist, 1984-88; professional freestyle BMX vert-ramp bicyclist, 1988—. Ten-time vert world champion; high air world record holder. Founder and president, Hoffman Promotions and Hoffman Bikes; producer, director, and host of bicycle competitions and television shows for ESPN2, including Kids in the Way, HBtv, and Mat's World; organizer of show tours, including Sprocket Jockey Bicycle Stunt Team, Crazy Freakin' Bikers Series, and Mat Hoffman's Crazy Freakin' Stunt Show. Consultant to movies, including Keep Your Eyes Open, Ultimate X, Triple X, Jackass: The Movie, and Tomb Raider 2. Participant, Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam. Co-producer of video games, including Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX and Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2.
Numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals for BMX bicycle events and X Games events; Action Sports Lifetime Achievement Award from ESPN, 2002.
(With Mark Lewman) The Ride of My Life (autobiography), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Pioneering athlete Mat Hoffman is one of the greatest vert-ramp bicycle riders in the world. With his daring extreme stunts and imaginative original moves, Hoffman has helped to establish freestyle BMX bike racing as an international sport with an ever-growing audience. Nicknamed "The Condor," Hoffman has seemed to defy gravity by becoming airborne on his custom-made bicycles and executing flips, turns, and other moves so radical that he had to name them himself. He is one of very few Americans who—as himself—is the star of two video games.
Hoffman began doing stunts on his bike when he was still a boy, and by the time he was thirteen he qualified to race as an amateur at national freestyle BMX events. At sixteen he turned pro and began a long domination of freestyle bicycle competitions that includes ten world championships, the high air world record, and the creation of more than 100 new tricks for vert—ramp biking. The championships have exacted a toll—he has suffered more than forty-five broken bones, has endured multiple concussions, and has undergone numerous surgical procedures, some of them for life-threatening injuries. Hoffman told the London Observer that the thrill of aerial stunt biking is worth the pain of the inevitable wipe-outs. "In the end, I think it defines how much I love what I do," he said. "To taste all the pleasure and success you have to be prepared to take all the pain and failures too. And I am."
As one of the early international stars of vert-ramp biking, Hoffman wisely noted that the sport was gaining in popularity. He formed his own production company to produce television and traveling shows that have brought in new viewers and participants. He also designed his own bicycles out of necessity and turned that into an international industry, Hoffman Bikes. Now in the twilight of his years as a competitor, he is well poised to continue making important contributions to his sport.
Most people are just embarking on their life careers at age thirty, but Hoffman had accomplished so much that he was ready to look back and write an autobiography. The Ride of My Life, co-authored with Mark Lewman, explores his life from the time he left school to compete in amateur events through his many years of top-level competition, to his success as the head of two companies. Written in a manner that can be enjoyed by both adults and children, The Ride of My Life includes numerous pictures of Hoffman executing his signature stunts and enjoying the accolades that came with his championships. In a Library Journal review of the book, Jamie Watson noted that while Hoffman's story might be enjoyed most by fans of extreme sports, "anyone could find inspiration from the success and pleasure he has gotten from hard work, passion, and desire."
In his London Observer profile, Hoffman said he has no plans to quit riding, despite the mounting physical damage he sustains from the effort. "I just want to see what I can do with my body and my bike," he said. "And challenge it daily. My motivation is not competition. I ride under the current terms, that I'm dealt with my body. And I enjoy riding as it is now as opposed to comparing it to anything else."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), August 16, 2003, Ramona Shelburne, "Bike Stunt Vert," p. S8.
Library Journal, May, 2003, Jamie Watson, review of The Ride of My Life, p. 181.
News Journal (Wilmington, DE), November 10, 2002, Holly Norton, "Extreme Sports Stars Mix It up on Tour," p. D1.
Observer (London, England), June 9, 2002, Matthew O'Donnell, "Up Where He Belongs: Mat Hoffman Is the King of BMX," p. 25.
People Weekly, September 16, 2002, Jason Lynch, "Leapin' Wizard: What's Biker Mat Hoffman's Most Awesome Stunt? Turning Himself into a Successful CEO," p. 101.
Hoffman Bikes, http://www.hoffmanbikes.com/ (June 8, 2004).*
"Hoffman, Mat 1972-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/hoffman-mat-1972
"Hoffman, Mat 1972-." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/hoffman-mat-1972