Evel Knievel was such an icon in the universe of daredevil stunts that we here at ImaSportsphile have decided to tell his life’s story….cuz this was one very interesting person….so, we will tell about the early part of his life in this post herewith….which will cover right of to when he became one of the world’s greatest daredevil showmen.
Evel Knievel left high school after his sophomore year and got a job in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator with the Anaconda Mining Company….but he preferred motorbiking to what he called “unimportant stuff”…..so, when he was promoted to surface duty where he drove a large earth mover…. he ended up getting fired when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type “wheelie” ….and drove it into Butte’s main power line…..while leaving the city without electricity for several hours.
Without work, Knievel began to get into trouble around Butte…..as he was always looking for new thrills and challenges….so he participated in local professional rodeos and ski jumping events….which included winning the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men’s ski jumping championship in 1959…. and so thereafter, he joined the United States Army….where his athletic ability allowed him to join the track team….when he was a pole vaulter. After his army stint, Knievel returned to Butte, where he met and married his first wife, Linda Joan Bork…..and shortly after getting married, Knievel started the Butte Bombers, a semi-pro hockey team.
To help promote his team and earn some money….he convinced the Czechoslovakian Olympic ice hockey team to play the Butte Bombers in a warm-up game to the 1960 Winter Olympics (to be held in California) ….of which he was ejected from the game minutes into the third period and left the stadium….then when the Czechoslovakian officials went to the box office to collect the expense money that the team was promised….the workers discovered the game receipts had been stolen.
After the birth of his first son, Kelly, Evel Knievel realized that he needed to come up with a new way to support his family financially…..so, using the hunting and fishing skills taught to him by his grandfather ….Knievel started the Sur-Kill Guide Service…..in which he guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee….then he would get the big game animal he desired or Evel would refund his fee. Business was very good until game wardens realized that Knievel was taking his clients into Yellowstone National Park to find prey….and that is when the Park Service ordered Knievel to cease this poaching….so in response, Knievel, who was learning about the culling of elk in Yellowstone, decided to hitchhike from Butte to Washington, D.C., in December 1961….in order to raise awareness and to have the elk relocated to areas where hunting was permitted….and after his conspicuous trek (he hitchhiked with a 54-inch-wide rack of elk antlers and a petition with 3,000 signatures….which he presented his case to Congressman Arnold Olsen, Senator Mike Mansfield and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall…..and as a result of Knievel’s efforts, culling was stopped in the late 1960’s.
Soon after returning home from Washington D.C……Knievel decided to stop committing crimes…..and that is when he joined the motocross circuit and had moderate success…..but he still could not make enough money to support his family…..so, to help support his family, he switched careers and sold insurance for the Combined Insurance Company of America….while working for W. Clement Stone…..who suggested that Knievel read Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, a book that Stone wrote with Napoleon Hill….which Knievel credited much of his later success to Stone and his book. Knievel was successful as an insurance salesman….even selling insurance policies to several institutionalized mental patients….and wanted recognition for his efforts…..so, when the company refused to promote him to vice-president after he had been a few months on the job, he quit. Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington…..where he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted motocross racing. During the early 1960’s, he and other dealers had difficulty promoting and selling Japanese imports because of the steep competition of their auto industry….and the Moses Lake Honda dealership eventually closed. After the closure, Knievel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington…..when Pomeroy’s son, Jim Pomeroy, who went on to compete in the Motocross World Championship….when he taught Knievel how to do a “wheelie” and ride while standing on the seat of the bike.