Like chocolate or vanilla ice cream in the 1950s, the choices of favorite skaters in the ‘80s were basically limited to two — it was Tony Hawk’s rapid-fire technical tricks or Christian Hosoi’s stylish air show.
As a follower of either Hawk or Hosoi you may have once lined the stands at the legendary Del Mar Skate Ranch to hoot for your hero. The battles were termed the Hawk/Hosoi Wars by some and while the fans never did quite get violent, they sure became raucous at times.
The split in loyalties was as much about lifestyle as ability. Hosoi was the no-holds barred rock star, living in W.C. Field’s old house in Hollywood. He partied ‘til dawn eight days a week with the Hollywood elite, and often skated the next day’s competition on nothing but fumes, muscle memory and adrenaline.
Hawk, by comparison, was more like an Olympic athlete, keeping life clean and disciplined while proving a good role model for kids. In the end, Hawk won more often than Hosoi, but Christian’s high-flying performance art, where he danced and shouted and laughed before skating a ramp, was sometimes the most memorable.
All that said, you might wonder why Christian Hosoi isn’t a household name, like Tony Hawk, whose Pro Skater series of video games have sold in the millions. While there are several reasons for Hosoi being the lesser known of the two stars, drug addiction is the main cause for his fading beyond the spotlight.
Christian began smoking marijuana when he was 8 years old. By the age of 11, he was dealing it to kids his age. By age 15 he was snorting cocaine. Seven years later he began his final descent into the dark world of meth, something that would keep its claws in him for the next decade.
That life came to a halt in January of 2000 when Hosoi was arrested by federal officers in Honolulu Airport for possession of 1.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine. It would be four more years before he would be freed from prison and take up where he left off, as one of the most influential skateboarders of all time. But that’s not the entire story.
While in prison, a whole new life began for the man ironically named Christian. With all his lines to the outside cut, Hosoi began to view life through a different lens.
“I had worn crosses my entire life, invented a skateboarding move called the ‘Christ Air’ and was nicknamed ‘Christ.’ Still, I had never once opened a Bible. I had never once been to church or prayed, not even before a meal. When I began reading the scriptures a light came on and I saw what I had been missing. Now, as a follower of Christ, I identify with II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! I can tell you, that old guy is dead.”
As evidence of that “death,” and his new life, Hosoi spends countless hours praying for and counseling members of the Sanctuary, the church in Huntington Beach where he serves as outreach pastor. He is a sought after public speaker and continues to skate and compete internationally. He has close ties with the skate world, including legends like his longtime friend and one-time rival, Tony Hawk. He has joined Hawk in another way also. He is now a role model to kids everywhere.
Christian Hosoi lives in Huntington Beach, California with his wife of ten years, Jennifer, and their children: Rhythm, Classic and Endless.
Filed Under: Sea Notes