Brighton’s premier pro skater, Amir Williams, has been tearing up the city for the last 13 years. He’s recently picked up a new sponsor in the shape of Etnies and will be skating the Route One and Etnies demo at Hove Lagoon Skatepark. He also makes hip hop under the name Amirmortal.
At what point did you realise that you were good at skating?
I cracked my head open and went into a coma when I was little on a BMX and I didn’t skate until I was 17, so I was a late bloomer. When I first started I weighed 17 stone – my nickname was Chubs – so I guess 19, 20, maybe 21 was when I got good. At 20 or 21 I got my first shop sponsor. My friend got me to enter a comp in London but I wouldn’t enter anything unless I knew I could land at least three tricks in a row. I wanted to do well. I wanted to learn consistency, because that’s the key for staying on in competitions.
How did you end up going pro?
We used to have a half pipe down here [at the West Pier] but the council took it away. It stopped a lot of skateboarders and it meant I had to start skating street. I got a hunger for that after I won a couple of contests and lots of sponsors came up to me. I had to choose who to skate for out of six or seven companies. I chose DC shoes and Karma and went pro. Now I’m sponsored by Gumball 3000, Route One (who are working on a pro board for me with 3D graphics), and Etnies. I just found out that a lot of the Etnies guys in California are from Brighton. Some of them went to my school and remember me.
Do you make a living out of skating?
I don’t have to work, luckily. It is hard to make it pro in this country. There’s a few of us now, but when I started it was a really rare thing. It wasn’t something that you could plan to be. If I get photographed and you can see one of my sponsors logos in the photo, I get paid for that. Then they pay for travel – I’m waiting to go on an India tour – and I’m really careful with the money they pay me. I haven’t got a car or a fat mansion or anything but I wouldn’t have done half of the things I’ve done if it wasn’t for skating – it shows you a lot of life.
What’s Brighton like as a skating town?
It’s known all around the world. The only harsh thing is that we don’t have a decent indoor park, but even without that it’s a very good scene. The Level had its years of being good but there’s a bit of a cloud over it. They’re talking about what to do with it. I agree with it having police patrols and cameras, cos that’s why I’m not there now. I’ve done a lot there through the years, and you never know what’s gonna happen there. But don’t get me wrong, I love The Level – it made me who I am as a skater. But if you go down there now, I doubt you’d see any skateboarders there – it’s all BMXs and scooters.
What’s a typical day for you?
I don’t go to bed until about seven cos I’m making beats all night. I make hip hop instrumentals and my own lyrical stuff and I’m a scratch DJ as well. I check out the weather and if it’s a nice day I might get hyped watching a skate video, or a film cos I’m a bit of a film fanatic. I’m quite creative so I don’t sit around or mong out or get high. I pretty much skate all day, although for the last month I’ve been trying to rest my Achilles heel tendon as it’s a bit bruised and NASS, the world championship, is coming up soon. I’ve entered that every year and won one before. I’m not saying I’ll win it this year, but I really like to be on form.
WORDS AND PHOTO BY JAMES KENDALL