Steve Rocco – 2022

2022 Skateboarding Hall of Fame Inductee - Steve Rocco
2022 Skateboarding Hall of Fame Inductee – Steve Rocco

It is almost impossible to cover the complete legacy of Steve Rocco. No one would have known that when Steve, the oldest of six siblings in Hermosa Beach, received his first skateboard at age eleven it would begin a story molded in success, risk, and controversy.

First gaining recognition as an excellent freestyle skater, Rocco would go on to have an early impact on street skating. Some of his early sponsors were Tunnel, Hobie, Powell-Peralta, and SIMS, who would give him his first pro model in 1979. But Rocco’s career instantly hit roadblock when SIMS entered an agreement with Vision, who fired him in 1987. Ready to turn his back on skateboarding, he was luckily mentored by none other than Skip Engblom. In a span of less than 3 months Rocco took a credit card cash advance of $5,000, and with friend and fellow skateboarder Rodney Mullen, bought out John Lucero’s part of the “company” for $7,000. Thus World Industries was born truly on a wing and a prayer. Obviously Rodney was in charge of praying.

The countless sagas detailing these Wild West days of World has only increased over the years. Being seen as both a powerful entrepreneur and big kid, Rocco was also known for his extremely generous nature toward his skaters, with board royalties and everyday expenses including healthcare, which at the time was unheard of. Finding success in pushing boundaries, Rocco fearlessly released some of the rawest and unapologetically risqué boards the culture has ever seen. Matching this, was the provocative ads Rocco created, used to both battle against the norms and competing companies.

Controversy aside, World opened the door for other small, skater-owned companies to enter the industry. Working alongside Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas and Mike Ternasky, Rocco would help create Blind, Plan B, 101 and other companies over the years. When one of his ads was rejected by Transworld Skateboarding, Steve even created the notorious Big Brother Magazine. Guided by Jeff Tremaine and the budding genius Spike Jonze Big Brother became the hit movie series Jack Ass

At the height of his success, Rocco would go on to sell 70% of World Industries in 1998 for 30 million before his retirement from the industry when it was sold to Globe Shoes for 55 million in 2001. Later in 2007, Rocco was the subject of the documentary The Man Who Souled the World, which detailed his rise with World Industries.

But in March 2024, Rocco announced on social media his return to the skate industry, releasing a statement that he would join Sidewalk Distribution to, “finish off skateboarding once and for all.”

-Chuck Harper
Steve Roccos Skateboarding Hall of Fame trophy on his bookshelf in New Zealand.
Steve Roccos Skateboarding Hall of Fame trophy on his bookshelf in New Zealand.