Johnny Rodney Mullen (born August 17, 1966 in Gainesville, Florida) is a professional skateboarder, and widely considered to be one of the most influential skaters in the history of the sport. He is credited with inventing the majority of ollie and flip tricks introduced throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, including, the Kickflip, the Heelflip, and the Impossible, which are regularly performed in modern street and vertical skateboarding
His Early career - the 1970s and 1980s:
Mullen started skateboarding at the age of 10, when his father (who had opposed his son's wishes) finally agreed to give Rodney a skateboard on the condition that he always wore pads, and with the understanding that if he were to ever get hurt he would have to quit. On January 1, 1977 he bought his first skateboard. His first sponsor was Bill Murray at Inland Surf Shop where Rodney used to skate in their carpark. He rode a Walker Skateboard in his first contest at Kona in Jacksonville, FL in 1977, placing third in Boys Freestyle. The 11-year old attracted the attention of skateboard manufacturer Bruce Walker, which resulted in Mullen earning sponsorship with Walker Skateboards.
For the next 3 years, Rodney took first place in almost every contest he entered. His nearly 30 contest victories, mostly in Florida, culminated with a win at the Oceanside Nationals in May, 1979 in the 11-13 year old sponsored boys division. At the time, Rodney's coaching influence came primarily from Barry Zaritsky, a skateboard and fitness enthusiast who encouraged a radical training regimen for him. In 1980, the week of his 14th birthday, Rodney entered, and won, his first professional contest at the Oasis Pro in San Diego, beating then world champion, Steve Rocco.
This victory solidified a new sponsorship for Rodney with Powell Peralta, for whom he skated over the next 8 years. In early 1989, Mullen left Powell Peralta and bought out John Lucero(for $6000) to become a partner in World Industries with Steve Rocco. By that time, Rodney had won 34 of 35 freestyle competitions he’d entered over the previous 10 years. This is the most successful run in skateboard competition history citation needed
His Later career - the 1990s to 2000s:
His tenure at World Industries marked the beginning of a shift in his skating career from freestyle to street skating. Throughout this period Mullen developed a highly technical version of street skating based on his freestyle experience. This approach was first seen in the 1992 Plan B video ‘Questionable.’ Mullen has continued to develop his skating style based upon a fusion of freestyle and street. Mullen skated for various companies during the 1990s, all of which were under the World Industries umbrella. As well as being a professional skater, Mullen started to design new products including the Tensor truck in 2000 and helping to design and engineer various World Industries pro decks.
In 2002 the World Industries companies, under the holding name Kubic Marketing, were bought out by Globe International for $46 million. Kubic's management remained intact and Mullen began working for Globe International under the Dwindle Distribution brand with a pro model on Almost Skateboards.
2004 saw the announcement by Dwindle that it has been producing skateboard decks in China under the direction of Mullen. A Dwindle spokesperson explained that the move was “to better control our current product quality and develop new advanced products. All this, while simultaneously lowering the price on existing skate-deck products.”
Mullen also penned an autobiography in 2004 with the help of Sean Mortimer, entitled The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself.