Evel Knievel

The Last Gladiator

A legend is born

After a police chase in 1956, in which he crashed his motorcycle, Knievel was taken to jail on a charge of reckless driving. When the night jailer came around to check roll call, he noted Robert Knievel in one cell and William Knofel in another. Knofel was well known as "Awful Knofel" ("awful" rhyming with "Knofel") so Knievel began to be referred to as Evel Knievel ("Evel" rhyming with "Knievel"). He chose this misspelling because of his last name and because he didn't want to be considered "evil." And thus the legend was born...

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"The people don't come to see me die. They come to see me defy death."

Photo of Evel Knievel in his suit
Bones heal, pain is temporary,

And chicks dig scars.

Grungy Skeleton Illustration
Grungy Crushed Pelvis Illustration

Has had 35 actual broken bones including shattering his pelvis completely.

Grungy Broken Bone Illustration

Had over 433 bone fractures over the course of his career.


Was in a coma for 29 days.

Grungy Steel Plate Illustration

Has had surgery 14 times to pin and plate his bones.

Photo of Evel Knievel climbing in the skycycle

Keeping his word

One of Evel's qualities was that he had great pride in his core values. Throughout his career (and later life), he would repeatedly talk about the importance of "keeping his word." He stated that although he knew he may not successfully make a jump or even survive the canyon jump, he followed through with each stunt because he gave his word that he would. Prior to the canyon jump, Knievel stated, "If someone says to you, 'that guy should have never jumped the canyon. You knew if he did, that he'd lose his life and that he was crazy.' Do me a favor. Tell him that you saw me here and regardless of what I was, that you knew me, and that I kept my word."

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"The finest compliment you can pay a man is that his word was as good as gold."