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Push: Theo Fearon

Photography and interview by Tom Quigley.

Yes Theo, tell people who you are!

I’m 21 years old and was born and raised in Nottingham. My mum is Scottish, my dad is Jamaican; they both lived in London before moving to Notts.

What brought your family to Notts then?

I guess work opportunities, and it’s cheaper to live here. That was about 10 years before I was born; I was born in 2000.

How did you discover skateboarding?

Some of my mates skated towards the end of primary school, and we were also introduced to skateboarding in an assembly, by this company called NISE. They ran a skate school in the local leisure centre back then. People would learn how to skate, and there’d be free boards for kids, kind of like the free beginners’ sessions Skate Nottingham have been doing in recent years.

So I became aware of you in the early 2010s as that little kid with the big afro who’d ollied the Sneinton Market three block at about age 13. How long had you been skating by the time you did that?

Probably about three years. I started street skating not long after I had been to the skate school; we started going to skateparks first, all around the local area, then Sneinton Market, which I'd actually been told about by the people in Forty Two skate shop. My friend Romello had told me to go in there to get an old spare board. Some guy was buying a new set-up, and he said, “there you go mate, if you need something, you can have it off this one”. So I basically got handed a skated, but good condition, legit set-up, with Venture trucks and a Mini Logo deck, from some random skater who had just upgraded. It was better than my pre-built Voltage complete; that’d been fully destroyed by then!

So you were skating at age 12 or 13 when you got the clip at the Sneinton three, and then you disappeared from skating for about five years. How did that come about?

I was injured from skating so I couldn’t skate for a few months; I had some ankle injury. Then I was trying to get back into it but just wasn’t feeling it…it was probably winter at that point. 

And that’s when you got into boxing?
Yeah. A cousin of mine was staying with us and was boxing at the time, so I went to some of the sessions with him randomly. It was very challenging, even compared to skateboarding. It was physically draining to an extent I’d never experienced before. It was a big shock to the system, but in a good way.

You clearly got into it, as you stuck with it for a few years.
I got good guidance from my coaches there; they saw I had potential in it, so they’d give pointers and send me in the right direction, encouraging me to stick with it. I didn’t watch skate videos much at all during this time, I completely stopped thinking about it, which is mad to think now that it’s always on my mind! You had to be focused with boxing; that was all you’d think about. You'd really study it and learn as much as you can about it.

Tall ollie a few streets over from Sneinton Market.

What’s the difference between going to those early sessions to learn boxing, and then later, actually competing?

There’s a big difference. At the start I was just going for fitness and the enjoyment of it, but after I got a bit better I was doing more sparring, which is like a replica of a fight, and then with the training, for that we talked about having fights and competing. It’s exciting, but a nerve-racking process. It’s a lot to deal with at that age I think, because you’re going to school, but after school you might be going for a five-mile run or training for several hours, then waking up the next day sore and tired, and you’ve still got school. I would train on a Sunday as well, especially if I had a fight coming up. When you’ve got a fight lined up, everything has to be thought about with regards to that; it’s pretty full on.

How did the fights go? Did you get a good record?

Yeah, I won quite a few, I was knocking people out; I fought in an East Midlands championship for my weight, which was 91 kilos, and I won that. Then because of that I got through to the national championship, and I fought in the final there. I lost that one, but it was a close fight. It was mad to have had it within the few fights I’d had by that point. The guy I fought was older, he’d boxed for England and all this, and I was only 16 or 17 at the time.

How did you end up transitioning out of boxing, and did skating come back at the same time?

I’d had a few fights, but wasn’t enjoying it as much at that point basically, so I thought I’d have a little break from boxing. I didn’t even think I’d get back into skating, but I wanted to do something physical so I wasn’t just being a slob for the whole time while I was taking a break (laughs). I saw my board, and I thought I’d just go have a little cruise around.

It was harder to get back into it than I thought. You feel like you should be able to do these tricks, because you know how to do them in your tricks was a bit frustrating. I still think it took more than a few months to get that really good sense of board feel and control back, but the enjoyment was there straight away. I started coming back to Sneinton Market to skate, and seeing all the same people I used to skate with when I was younger, people I hadn’t seen in was sick.

Central Nottingha, boardslide within spitting distance of Theo's Forty Two workplace.

Do you think the boxing training helped when you came back to skating?

I think so; it's a very athletic sport, boxing. There’s lots of training where you have to jump - skipping, burpees, jumping onto tires, squats…and you’re always on your toes when you’re in the ring, you’re always moving and having to react. Being quick and being very sudden, that's what it’s about. I guess being on your toes translates to your board; that's why I like big ollies I reckon, and trying to really pop all my tricks. 

I still maintain that you’re the challenger to Rob Johnson as the holder of the biggest pop in Notts.

Yeah, prime for prime, definitely. I’m aiming for the ollie world record, that's 45.5 inches. I’m within a few inches of that. It’s got to be official; they do them sometimes at random skate contests.

We should just add it onto the next local comp we do, get the Guinness World Record people down.

(Laughing) Yeah, add it on, measure it up! That’s the goal anyway; I'd like to do that.

Now you’re a lot older, a lot taller, you’ve ended up getting a job at Forty Two as well, working alongside Rob.

Yeah, it all lined up! As a kid I’d be lurking in the skate shop, you'd meet all your mates in there, you’d meet new skaters, talk to people, hang out, look at boards, but not buy anything for the most part as you’d be pretty broke. So it came about from knowing those guys - Rob, Scott (Underdown) and everyone. Then towards the end of one of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I ended up helping out, stringing up boards and stuff.

Is your mum supportive of your skating?

She understood why I was doing boxing, though she probably understands my passion for skating more because it doesn’t involve getting punched in the head every week (laughs). Whenever I get a photo in a mag, she’s stoked, and The Skateboarder’s Companion calendar cover, she found a good spot for it on the wall.

Follow Theo - @yng.theophilus

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