The father of Australian skipping
... I'll be around, the Government owes me too much money.
I’ve had a very interesting life, matter of fact. And it’s still going. Hasn’t stopped.
I’m the father of skipping in Australia.
I was on holidays in 1975. I used to teach Phys Ed at the Southport School here for 21 years, and I thought what am I going to do in the holidays? I thought skipping might make it interesting. I went to the manager of the shopping centre in Gosford, and I painted a pretty picture. I didn't know how I was going to do it. I said, ‘this is the thing that kids are interested in’. I was amazed how many people turned up. I used to put in an hour every day and a big championship on the Saturday morning. I said, ‘I might go for a record’, and the TV stations started to contact me, newspapers. I thought, ‘this is crazy, all I'm doing is skipping’. I appeared on some midday show and then I broke a couple of records and one day I got word from the Guinness Book of Records. They said, ‘we would like you to go to Tokyo. We're having the Guinness Olympics’. I was invited over there to perform, all expenses paid, in a beautiful hotel. I thought, ‘this is crazy, better athletes in Australia than me and here's me in a luxury hotel’.
I thought I wouldn't mind going over to Singapore, so I went over there to see the people at the place like our sports institute in Australia. They said, ‘we’d like you to put on a show’. I went to a school, put on a show, and they said, ‘oh, yeah, this is good’. I've been invited back to Singapore a few times to perform, one time at a stadium in front of 10,000 people. All of this because I had nothing to do one Christmas holidays! Now skipping is one of the most popular inter-school sports.
I went touring around Australia, visiting schools, and yeah, it just snowballed. I still can't get over it. School kids go crazy over it. I used to say to the teachers, ‘now, look at these kids. If you said to them, we're going to run four laps around the oval, you hear grumbles. Now I've gotta tell them to have a rest’. And they were amazed also, because they’d never seen anything like it where the kids didn't want to stop.
I put a show on at World Expo 88. I couldn't believe it. I thought, this is crazy. it's something I just thought of. And then it snowballed. Everybody wanted me. I couldn't believe it, you know? Everybody thought, ‘oh, that's only a kids sport, but it's better than jogging, and you don't have to leave the house. I used to train while watching TV. It's been proved, five minutes of skipping is equal to a lot of running.
When I was five years old, one day I woke up in the morning and I couldn't move my left leg. Mum thought I was trying to squid out on going to school. She said, ‘no, come on, get out of bed’. I said, ‘I can’t’, and I was in pain. So they called the Doctor, and said, ‘he’s got paralysis’ and they sent me to a specialist hospital. I was in hospital for about six months, and I remember the doctor saying to my dad, ‘he'll never walk again’ and, being five years old it didn’t seem to worry me much. Dad got sick and tired of going from Parramatta to the hospital, so he said to them, ‘I'm taking him home, this is no good, he's not getting any better’. They said, ‘well he won't walk’. And he said, ‘we'll see about that’. He put me on the floor when I got home because I was only in bed all that time and he put money in front of me and I was after this money. He said, ‘it’s yours if you can get it’. I'm after this money and he put it further some days and before long I was crawling around everywhere, and my leg was coming good and he could see that. So he put money on the edge of the table. He said, ‘you get up there and it's yours’. So I'm after this money. I can still remember it. So I grabbed the money. So he made it further away and he got me to walk, you know, no medical experiences, but he said, ‘you’re no good in bed’. All I remember is getting this money. I thought this was a good racket.
My religion is fitness. I train every night, I do weights, sit ups and squats and everything for half an hour without a stop. Sitting still won't pump any blood to your brain or get your immune system working. Only thing to do that is physical activity. And exercise is the thing.
You don’t stop exercising because you grew old, you grow old because you stop exercising.
Kevin is, to me, a celebrity from my childhood. In an era that was all ‘skipping’ and ‘elastics’, he is the epitome of that. Kevin is lively, lovely, humorous man, quite the showman, who firmly believes he has a guardian angel looking down on him. He has written two books on skipping, released a DVD and had his own line of skipping ropes. Kevin only gave up skipping a few years ago, still holds several skipping records and is keen to see skipping in the Olympics. He has been on the road for over 21 years in his van, visiting family.