Action sports culture dictates that perseverance is the secret to success. Whether grinding off a park bench, weaving through an obstacle-laden street, or hitting anything in the vicinity that even resembles a ramp, the mantra is the same: practice, practice, practice. And if you really want to go places, make sure you’re having fun while you do it.
It’s no wonder then that Torque found a renewed sense of dedication in one of the newest members of Team Torque: 28-year-old X Games medalist and BMX World Champion Anthony Napolitan.
We caught up with Anthony to ask him a couple of questions about BMX riding, joining Torque, and his plans for the future.
What was a typical week like for you back when you were trying to get noticed in BMX circuits?
Back when I was growing up riding my BMX bike, all I did every day was ride. I wasn’t really trying to get noticed, I was just having fun! My friends and I would ride dirt, ramps and street nonstop every day.
When you were a kid–before X Games and BMX and all of that–what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was really big into football when I was growing up. I idolized Emmitt Smith. I wanted to be a running back just like him.
What moment do you look back on and say “that was the most difficult moment of my career”?
A lot of my moments in my Bmx career have been positive ones. I’d have to say losing sponsors and injuries are the most difficult times. Injuries being number one because there is nothing you can do about them aside from taking the time off to heal.
Tell us something surprising people don’t know about you.
My life has always been kind of out there to hang out and dry. Everyone knows I’m OCD, I like to live a healthy eating lifestyle and I can touch my tongue to my nose hahaha!
What does Anthony Napolitan do when he’s not practicing?
I love being active! When I’m not riding BMX I enjoy surfing. I also like being creative when it comes to building things. I like woodworking and taking on projects of that nature. I really just enjoy learning new skills.
Craziest night you’ve ever had.
The crazy nights are the one we usually don’t remember or try to forget hahaha! I’ve seen and experienced a lot of crazy things in my life. It would be hard to narrow down just one.
Who were your biggest influences growing up and why?
Some of my biggest influences growing up were my best friends. Aside from my best friends I looked up to riders like TJ Lavin, Brian Foster, Joe Rich and Joey Garcia. All of those riders were progressing the sport in such different ways at the same time. It was a huge influence on me because I could see the diversity of riding right in front of me.
When did you realize BMX riding was your calling?
I feel like every kid wants to be a sponsored professional rider when they start riding. I, of course, always dreamed of it, but never thought it would happen. Then one day I got sponsored and had the opportunity to take it to the next level. And that’s what I did.
Take us back to your first X Games Competition. What was going through your head that day?
My first X Games competition was back in 2006 and I was competing in BMX dirt. I was so competitive at that time. All I wanted to do was win. when the contest was over I was so caught up in not winning that I didn’t realize I was taking home a bronze medal. That was a really great day because I was able to stand on top of the podium with some of the most influential riders in BMX.
You and your brother seem to be close, and he’s obviously in the same field as you. Do you feel like you’re his biggest influence?
My brother and I are very close. Even though he and I are brothers and ride BMX, we are very much different from each other within BMX. I actually feel like he is one of my biggest influences. Watching him succeed makes me extremely happy and motivated.
You and a few other key athletes’ association with Torque Sports brings their athletic gear out of the realm of strictly MMA and into the broader field of extreme sports as a whole. How does Torque’s company philosophy fit in with your profession and lifestyle?
The thing that drew me to Torque the most was how diversified they are. They’re not just an MMA company. Having new companies interested with action sports is always a plus as well. And there is definitely a mutual respect between all of the sports combined.
Have you met the other athletes on Torque’s roster? What are they like?
I’ve known TJ for over 10 years now. Terry Adams and I have been friends for a long time as well. As far as the MMA athletes go, I haven’t met many of them. But I definitely look forward to meeting Urijah Faber. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring BMX athletes – what would you tell them?
I would tell them to have fun. Being a professional BMX rider isn’t about winning in training all the time. It’s about having fun and being in that moment and truly enjoying the time you have on a BMX bike. And if getting sponsored is your goal, just sit back and let it happen. And if it happens, then it was meant to be.
What’s your next goal?
I’ve had a few hiccups as far as injuries go in the past few years. So my goal is to just take care of my current injuries and get back on top of things again. 2014 was a great year for me, and I feel like my path to the top isn’t slowing down.