Interview by: Victoria Chacon
Photography By: Kori Kobayashi
AMONGST ALL THE RUNNING, JUMPING, FLIPPING AND WALL SCALING, ABQ-LIVE GOT THE CHANCE TO SIT DOWN AND INTERVIEW INSTRUCTOR AND PARKOUR ENTHUSIAST KENNY SULLIVAN WHO GIVES US HIS STORY ON WHAT ITS LIKE TO LIVE IN THE PARKOUR SCENE.
Parkour: The discipline or activity of moving rapidly and freely over or around the obstacles presented by an (esp. urban) environment by running, jumping, climbing, etc.
At what point did you decide that parkour was something you were going to take on as a profession, and did you have any influences?
KS: So, most people laugh at me when I tell them, but I was really into Power Rangers when I was younger. Seeing them being ninjas and flipping, as a kid you think, ‘You know what, if I can do that, I can be a Power Ranger.’ Originally, I got into it because I wanted to become a stunt man. It got me a couple stunt jobs, and then I realized parkour was becoming bigger in the U.S. Once it came to a point where you could get sponsored by companies like Red Bull, I took more interest in it.
How were your experiences in the film industry?
KS: Amazing, all of my stunt jobs happened when I was in high school, and obviously you don’t have a big income
working your basic job. I was earning $6.50/hr at the time. So when I got into stunt jobs, the first job I did everyone was like, ‘Oh you’re not gonna get paid that much because you’re not S.A.G certified. You’re like a walk-in stunt man.’ So I’m thinking the paycheck is gonna be around $300-400 bucks, I got my first check and it ended up being $20,000 so I was like, ‘Whoa blown away, and I only worked for one hour.’
Can you give an example of what your Training schedule is like?
KS: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday I wake up at nine o’clock in the morning and do 100 push-ups before I do anything, then debate what I know I need to work on. In this sport, once you pick and choose what you’re good at, then you work on what you’re weakest at. Typically, I’ll go outside, play at a park, go to the University of New Mexico and jump around there. This sport is all about
carrying your own body weight. I don’t have to be in a gym lifting a bunch of weights to get better at it.
Is there anyone specific you’re trying to reach through your ‘YouTube’ videos?
KS: Not necessarily, I’m not big into filming. I do have a lot of videos on YouTube, but most of them were not made by me. I did one official video called ‘Who is Kenny Sullivan’ that went pretty viral. It appeared on Worldstar, Shock Mansion, there were over a million views, and 300 subscribers on YouTube after that. It was really cool seeing my first video go that far. I’m trying to get more into filming and branch out for everyone to see. Ultimately, creating a better
representation of myself.
How was your experience at the Colorado Free Running Championship?
KS: The Colorado Free Running Championship, that one was amazing, at the time I wasn’t really sure about my skill level. I’d see people’s videos and think ‘That guy is clearly better than me.’ I got invited to partake in the championship and the first time I went, I finished in third place. It was a reassuring feeling for me to know, ‘These guys may be better than me or I may think they’re better than me, but I’m obviously keeping up if I’m able to do this and take this kind of placing.’ It helped me want to train more to eventually take first place, which I did recently in Colorado Springs.
How were your experiences with ‘Ninja Warrior’?
KS: Ninja Warrior, that’s a show that pretty much everyone loves. The way you get on the show is through audition, so you submit a video and they call you. I got accepted to do it, and I was super excited. I did fairly well but got out on a
technicality but it didn’t beat me, it wasn’t one of those things where I thought, ‘I’m not disappointed in myself for falling.’ I thought, ‘You know what, I had fun.’ I’m planning on doing it again next year.
What made you decide to become an instructor?
KS: For the extra money I thought I could start teaching people. I didn’t know how to go about it at first. It wasn’t until I started training kids that I also began to train myself better. It becomes ‘Practice what you preach.’ If I’m teaching them how to do rolls, or land safely I have to practice and demonstrate it, and their parents need to see that too. The more I started doing this and the more the kids started doing it, I got better. Kids change you. Teachers become teachers for a reason, and you go in
looking to help somebody.
“I wanted to do something that would put people in awe, make your jaw drop, make you think ‘that’s impossible’.”
– Kenny Sullivan
As an instructor what is your advice for those Interested in parkour?
KS: The best advice I can give is not to go all out and try everything attempting crazy flips wherever you can. The most misrepresented thing about parkour is that you’re going to jump from a two-story building and land. You have to train appropriately, and allow yourself to slowly progress.
Do you have any hopes for parkour in the Future, maybe ten years from now?
KS: Ten years from now I would like to see it as an Olympic sport. I want it to be something that everybody knows without question of what it is. I would like to see a competition for
millions of dollars where Nike or K-Swiss sponsor athletes, and you can see it on television and in Physical Education programs.
Who is Kenny Sullivan?
KS: What you see is what you get. I’m really outgoing, active, I love talking to people, and I’m just that guy who wants everyone else to be happy. I thrive off of people’s happiness and I love seeing people smile. I love entertaining people, it’s the big reason I got into this. I wanted to do something that would put people in awe, make your jaw drop, make you think ‘That’s impossible.’ That’s who I am, who I’m always gonna be. I can’t change I’ve been like this since I was a kid and I am not
planning on changing.