Bill Tocco Interview

Bill Tocco, turned pro for Gordon & Smith Skateboards in 1987. A series of knee injuries led to an early retirement from professional skateboarding. From a young age, Bill was intrigued by weightlifting and nutrition. Rehabbing from his knee injuries led him into a career in bodybuilding.

OGRT: Bill, thanks so much for doing this.  What’s new with you?

BT: Well the new vert ramp at our indoor park got finished a couple months back, unfortunately I had a little bit of a setback I partially tore my meniscus in my left knee been doing everything I can to get back skating quick I’m pretty close now about 90% I’ve been out about 10 weeks so it’s been tough to watch on the sidelines.

OGRT: How did you get started in skateboarding?

BT: I started skateboarding in 1975, my parents at the time owned a restaurant just outside of Detroit Michigan and a lot of the bus boys were skating all the time in the back of the restaurant and one day I tried it and I seem to have a natural aptitude for it it was so much fun I never stopped after that.

OGRT:  Growing up in Michigan, how was the skate scene

BT: Fortunately we had an amazing skate scene in Detroit the park we grew up skating was Endless Summer Skateboard Park in Roseville, Michigan it was one of the last four parks opened one being Delmar the other being upland Kona in Florida and then our park Endless Summer Skate Park. that’s pretty much for my whole life changed going to that park I learned how to skate and I grew up really fast I was introduced to punk rock I was the youngest local so I had no choice but to become a man faster than I would’ve been in any other situation. Locals at that park were Bill Danforth, who at the time was skating for Madrid and Tracker, Chris Opmore, who was skating for Powell and Tracker, Ward Kramer, skating for G&S, mike spike, Madrid and Tracker. Bill Ferguson, team Veriflex. My friend Greg Fadell was around the same age skate at the park as well. He wanted to become a top pro in downhill skateboarding. So as you can see I was surrounded by amazing accomplished very aggressive skate boarders.

OGRT: Who were your first sponsors? 

BT: My first sponsor was Gullwing trucks, then came Brand-X Skateboards. When I was at a competition in Mobile, Alabama I got recognized by some of the people from Vision. They had a division called Town & Country Skateboards they wanted to me to be on the team so I left Brand-X for Town & Country. Town & Country did not last long, they closed down that division and the natural move was to skate for either Vision or Sims. I had a choice, Gator told the team manager, Everett Rosecrans, you should pick up Tocco and put him on Vision. The caveat to this whole situation was he wanted them to have me ride one of his boards. I definitely had no problem with that whatsoever he was one of my favorite skaters at the time so I was definitely stoked no pun intended.

OGRT: You became a pro for Gordon & Smith in 1987, talk about that a little.  What did that mean to you?  How did it change your life?

BT: My life did not change drastically but it did allow me to travel a lot more than I would’ve if I was amateur because someone else was helping with the financial part of it. It was never about turning pro for me I skated many, many years before I turned pro. The actual moment where I turned pro was definitely one of the most special occasions of my life, winning the 1987 Amateur National Championships at NSA vert finals. I was just glad that I made it to the finals, the top 10 was so stacked with so many amazing skateboarders. I would’ve been happy just to place in the top 10, everybody in that top 10 class turned pro.

OGRT: Lets talk about your pro model graphics, who did the art and what’s the meaning behind them? Any plans for a reissue?

BT: The first graphic I did was a giant octopus attacking the city of Detroit that graphic symbolized the origins of the activity go back to the 1952 playoffs when a National Hockey League team played two best-of-seven series to capture the Stanley Cup. Having eight arms, the octopus symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. That’s why at Redwing playoff games people throw octopus onto the ice. I wanted to have a regional graphic to be proud of where I came from. Mique Willmount was the artist, he did record covers for Prince And Motley Crue.

No, I did sort of a re-issue with our skate park they also have a board company, Modern Skate, it came out right before Christmas and did very well

My new board is coming out soon on Character Skateboards from Chicago The artist doing the graphics is Phil Stone of Cartoon Network fame here is some of his work he’s amazing.

Artwork by Phil Stone

OGRT: When did you become interested in fitness and nutrition? 

BT: In 1988 I had a very severe knee injury and one of my sponsors at the time was Golds Gym of Venice, California. I went out there to do further rehabilitation on my knee and I became very interested in nutrition and training. But for most of the nutrition, there was a couple top nutritionist in the country who had worked there and had offices there and I would pick their brains on a daily basis, that’s what really prompted me to get involved in the fitness industry.

OGRT: Why did you transition into bodybuilding? 

BT: I always liked the aspect of building your body but looking at it more of an artistic expression rather than a sport. More like creating a sculpture, it was an individual sport much like skateboarding, that also appealed to me. I didn’t really like bodybuilding competition but I did like to train and I did like to change my body for training and nutrition.

OGRT: Was there anything you learned from skateboarding that led to your success in bodybuilding?

BT: I would say the most important thing I learned about skateboarding that would help me in bodybuilding is to be an individual, follow your own instincts and not follow the crowd.

OGRT: How often do you skate now? 

BT: Before my latest knee injury I was skating three times a week, so I will be back to that or more as soon as I’m 100%

OGRT:  When you watch skateboarding now, what do you think of the progression

BT: Absolutely mind blowing!!!!!

OGRT: What do you think of guys like Steve Cab, Hosoi, Tony Hawk, etc. still skating at a high level in their 50’s?

BT: It’s a definite inspiration I just turned 50 in March. It’s like when you see the first person to run a fourminute mile, no one thought it was possible until they witnessed that and then everybody was running a four-minute mile, so it’s kind of the same thing.

OGRT: Do you keep in touch with any of them?

Bill Tocco and Christian Hosoi
Christian Hosoi and Bill Tocco

BT: I saw Christian a few months back he was in Detroit it was great to catch up with him, I used to be sponsored by his wheels Hosoi Rockets. 

OGRT: Biggest slam you’ve ever had?  Worst injury?

BT: I’ve taken multiple big slams, but my worst injury was definitely to my knee. I tore almost everything you can tear. 

OGRT:  What’s next for Bill Tocco?

BT: Definitely more skating, I want to get back to a decently high level on vert and I want to skate as long as I possibly can.

OGRT: Again we greatly appreciate the time Bill. Time to let em’ know…

BT: Old Guys Rip Too!

To support Bill Tocco please see his sponsors below:
Modern Surf & Skate – Bill Tocco deck – new Bill Tocco Deck coming soon – Bill’s Fitness and Nutritional coaching (use Tocco15 for a discount)

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