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This is the archive for November 2007

R.I.P. Evel Knievel

Long before "extreme" became "X-treme", when you talked about "extreme sports", you were usually talking about daredevil motorcycle stunts, and if you were talking about daredevils, there was usually only one man you were talking about: Evel Knievel.

Evel Knievel was famous as much for the stunts that failed as the stunts that worked. The clip above is of his infamous leap over the fountains at Caesar's Palace, a stunt that resulted in him breaking nearly every bone in his body. His other failure of renown was his attempted leap over the Snake River Canyon on a specially-designed bike. I was one of the millions who tuned in to see if he could actually perform such a stunt, or if not, just how spectacular the crash and burn would be. Surprisingly, he escaped with only minor injuries.

Evel's last jump came in 1981, but his legendary feats and showmanship made him an icon. His death at the age of 69 is almost a surprise, because when you consider how many times he cheated death in the past, you'd think he would have kept on doing it forever. Oddly enough, his death comes only a couple of days after his name made headlines once again because of a lawsuit he'd filed (and then settled) against rapper Kanye West for trademark infringement. Evel always did know how to milk publicity for all it was worth.