Evel Knievel

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Evel Knievel (pronounced /ˈiːvəl kɨˈniːvəl/;)[1] (October 17, 1938 – November 30, 2007), born Robert Craig Knievel, was an American daredevil and entertainer. In his career he attempted 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, and in 1974, a jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. The 37 broken bones he suffered during his career earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime."[2] Knievel died of pulmonary disease in Clearwater, Florida, aged 69. According to The Times writing his obituary, Knievel was one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s. Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.[2]

Knievel was born in Butte, Montana, in 1938, and raised by his grand-parents. After watching a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show as a child, he took to jumping using a push bike, later moving onto motorcycles. As a troubled youth, he earned his stagename after occupying a jail cell next to a man named Knofel, leading the jailer to refer to the pair as Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel (Knievel later changed the spelling of the first name to Evel). In addition to stunt riding at local shows, his early life including a spell in the United States Army at the behest of a magistrate, aswell as jobs as a hunting guide, an insurance salesman, while also becoming an ice-hockey team owner and running a business protection racket. In these early years, Evel notably stopped an Elk cull in Yellowstone national park, and staged an exhibition match against the Czechoslovakian hockey team ahead of the 1960 Winter Olympics in California. After moving into sports full time, he had moderate success on the motocross circuit.

Knievel moved into the entertainment business in 1966 by setting up his own daredevil show, initially using a variety of performers and touring several US states, and later converting it to a solo show focused entirely on his jumps as the centre-piece. He came to national attention when he persuaded the owners of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to let him jump their fountain on New Year's Eve 1967, which was filmed for ABC. After a failed landing, he spent 29 days in a coma. On his recovery, he continued to make high profile and lucrative jumps, began lobbying the government for permission to jump the Grand Canyon. When this failed, he settled on the Snake River jump in Twin Falls, Idaho. Proving to be his most spectacular feat, he jumped it on September 8, 1978 in the Skycycle, which was essentially an unguided missile. After the launch, the arresting parachute deployed early, meaning the vehicle floated down on the far side landing feet from the river's edge, with Knievel suffering minor injuries. Knievel then travelled to Britain, and on May 26, 1975, attempted to jump 13 buses infront of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, again landing but with severe injuries. His furthest completed career jump then came at Kings Island theme park in Ohio October 25, 1975, jumping 14 buses, marking his peak television audience. After this jump, Knievel's jumps became smaller, and he eventually withdrew from doing major shows after cancelling an attempt jump a tank full of live sharks in Chicago after injuring himself and a cameraman during a practice jump. He instead concentrated on touring with and training his son Robbie Knievel, also a daredevil, eventually making his last jump in March 1981.

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